KARLSSON PREDICTS A CLOSE ROYAL TROPHY TUSSLE


Robert Karlsson flew into Thailand for his second Royal Trophy appearance yesterday, expecting a much tougher assignment than the last time he lined up against Asia.

Karlsson was a member of the European Team that scored a convincing victory in the 2007 match – but admitted he was not too surprised to hear Asia had turned the tables last year with a memorable 10-6 triumph.

He explained: “I have been telling everyone that we need to have the strongest possible team this week because Asian golf has been making massive strides.

“This is an important event for us. Losing hurts, and when any European Team is beaten it affects us all, even if we were not actually part of the team at the time.

“This is an important event for us, and I have been encouraging everyone on the European Tour to make themselves available for selection, if at all possible. There is no doubt we have a stronger team than last year – and we will need it, because our opponents will be confident, and determined to hold onto the Royal Trophy after their hard-earned success last year.

“It is also very important for us to do well because this competition was the idea of Seve Ballesteros, and he is still heavily involved in it. No-one has done more for European golf than Seve, and playing in this event is a good way to say thank you, especially at a time when he has had such serious health issues.”

Royal Trophy founder Ballesteros – who underwent brain surgery to remove a cancerous growth 15 months ago – was hoping to be in Thailand for the fourth Clash of the Continents between Asia and Europe. He decided it was too soon after a recent course of radiotherapy, but Karlsson was delighted to hear Seve’s doctors are so pleased with his recovery that they have not scheduled any further bouts of treatement.

Karlsson had to overcome his own health problems last year, as an eye problem kept him off the course for more than four months.

He explained: “There was a build-up of fluid behind the retina which affected the nerve ends and impaired my balance as well as my vision.  It was a worrying time, and it took a while for me to prove to myself that I was fully over it.

“I started to feel a lot better when I played in Hong Kong towards the end of the year, and knew I was back when I almost won the Dunlop Phoenix tournament in Japan, losing a play-off to Edoardo Molinari.

“It was a frustrating time, especially after the best year of my career in 2008, when I won some big tournaments and finished top of the Order of Merit in Europe. But you can also look at it another way – at least I did not have to worry about trying to keep my card or anything like that.

“Anyway, it’s behind me now, and I am looking forward to playing this week. I have a bit of catching up to do.”

“Robert Karlsson demonstrates a great passion for European golf and for representing the Continent in team competition. He is familiar with the Royal Trophy and the golf course and has demonstrated in the past that he can be a dangerous player for any of the Asian Team members who face him;” said Lincoln Venancio, Managing Director of the Royal Trophy.

“We are looking forward to a very exciting series of matches this week;” concluded Lincoln Venancio.

The fourth edition of the Royal Trophy will take place on 8-10 January 2010 at the exclusive Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi, Thailand. The Championship will feature a series of sixteen matches including the foursomes, four-ball and singles formats. The Principal Award for the winning Continent is stewardship of the perpetual solid-silver sixteen-kilogram Trophy, graciously donated by the world’s longest reigning Monarch – His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. The Royal Trophy is organized in Thailand by the Sports Authority of Thailand and Entertainment and Sports Co., Ltd. The Competition is promoted internationally by Entertainment Group Limited.

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