Prayad Marksaeng is ready to make an emotional return to the place where his golfing adventure began, after being put on standby for a third Royal Trophy appearance. The Thai star has been asked by Asian Team Captain Naomichi ‘Joe’ Ozaki to join the Asian Team at their Black Mountain Golf Club base as cover for Jeev Milkha Singh, who is still troubled by the shoulder injury that proved a constant handicap during his first year on the US Tour.

Prayad needed no second invitation. Black Mountain is in his birthplace, Hua Hin. In fact, he learned the game while walking through another of the region’s ten golf courses to get to school, swinging a ‘club’ fashioned out of bamboo and scrap metal.

He believes taking up golf saved him from a life of poverty. And Prayad proved such a good student of the game that he has already won ten professional titles; and almost clinched number eleven when he was runner-up at the 2010 Myanmar Open. He also finished the 2010 Asian Tour season in exceptional form, posting five top ten finishes in his final six starts, the last of them at the Black Mountain Masters, a tournament he finished runner-up in a year earlier.

So if he does get the call from Captain Ozaki to play in the Asian Team in the place of India’s top golfer Singh, Prayad will be able to supply plenty of course knowledge. In view of that sparkling end of season run, the Thai star could consider himself unlucky, not to have been an original selection for the fifth edition of the Royal Trophy, especially after he formed a highly effective partnership with Thai countryman and great friend Thongchai Jaidee in 2009 and 2010.

But that is an illustration of the competition for places in the Asian Team that now exists, and Captain Ozaki commented: “Prayad was, of course, one of many players who were strong contenders for selection this time, and it is certainly no reflection on his abilities that he did not quite make the original eight. The fact that he was the first player we turned to when Jeev informed us his injury was still proving slightly troublesome shows just how close Prayad was to making the team.

“The competition to play for the Asian Continent is becoming more fierce with each passing year, and I can say with confidence that we could now pick two teams of eight that would both be sure to give a very good account of themselves against the European Team. In the end I had to make a very difficult choice, and I opted for the players in form, and those with the sort of experience I felt could help our young golfers get the best out of themselves.

“I know that if Prayad is needed he will be a very fine addition to the Asian Team. He has proved that with his efforts in his previous Royal Trophy appearances.

“But Jeev is by no means certain to miss out. He is just concerned that if his shoulder is not one hundred per cent right he will risk letting his team-mates down, and you have to respect him for showing that attitude. We will leave a decision on his fitness until the day before play begins with the Foursomes on Friday, January 7. I will speak to Jeev on the Thursday, and we will decide then whether he is ready for three days of intense competition. He remains hopeful, and is naturally very keen to play.

“Whatever happens, Jeev and Prayad will remain with the Team for the duration of the Royal Trophy, although once one of them tees off on the Friday, we will not be able to change the line-up. It will be good to have an extra pair of eyes and ears to help me as we navigate what is certain to be a remarkable three days of team match play golf.”

Prayad insisted he is more than happy to be a member of the Asian Team for the third consecutive time. He said: “I would never wish any ill-fortune on another player, and I hope Jeev is able to take his place. But if I am called upon to play, it will be an honour and a privilege to be part of such a huge Event happening right in my birthplace.

“The Asian Team looks very strong again this year, and after securing that historic win in 2009 and then losing by only one point in a match that went to the final green in 2010, I am sure it will be another great contest this time.

“If I play, I know I will enjoy plenty of local support. But if not, I will do whatever Captain Ozaki requires for me to make the best possible contribution to the Asian Team. I certainly will join everyone else from Hua Hin in getting behind the Asian Team and willing that our Continent regains the Royal Trophy. If I can do anything to assist that – either on the course or in a backroom capacity – I will be delighted.”

“Prayad has made a great contribution to the Asian Team in the past;” stated Lincoln Venancio, the Royal Trophy Managing Director.

“We are delighted that he is ready to support the Championship and the Asian Team in any capacity required. His positive attitude clearly demonstrates that he is a sound role model for future generations of Asian golfers;” concluded Lincoln Venancio.

The fifth edition of the Royal Trophy; featuring foursomes, four-ball and singles matches, will be played on 7-9 January at the magnificent Black Mountain Golf Club.

The Championship is co-organized by the Sports Authority of Thailand, the Prachuap Khirikhan Province, the Hua Hin Municipality and Entertainment and Sports Co., Ltd. The Matches are promoted internationally by Entertainment Group Limited.

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