Both the Asian and European Teams will be able to boast their own royal connections when Europe and Asia do battle in the Royal Trophy from January 8-10.

Asia’s bid to defend the magnificent solid-silver sixteen-kilogram perpetual Trophy graciously donated by His Majesty the King of Thailand, will be spearheaded by Ryo Ishikawa, also know to his army of fans as ‘The Bashful Prince’.

Ishikawa certainly deserves to be classed as golfing royalty after his exploits in the past two and a half years since he became the youngest ever player to win on one of golf’s top level Tours – claiming the first of his six victories on the Japan Golf Tour as a fifteen year old amateur.

Leading the European challenge will be Colin Montgomerie, who has twice been summoned to Buckingham Palace to receive awards presented to him in the Queen’s New Year Honours list.

In 1998 Montgomorie was installed as a MBE – a Member of the British Empire – and seven years later he was awarded the even more prestigious Order of the British Empire, the OBE.

His first award was to recognise his feat in finishing top of the European Tour’s Order of Merit six years in a row. And he celebrated by achieving it for a seventh successive year.

His OBE in 2004 was reward for his incredible Ryder Cup record. He holed the winning putt at Oakland Hills earlier that year as he inspired Europe to a record-breaking victory on American soil, maintaining his record of never losing a singles match. Once again, Montgomerie used that as the springboard to be crowned Europe’s top player in 2005, and his record eight Order of Merit titles will probably never be surpassed.

If he can captain Europe to victory in both the Royal Trophy and the Ryder Cup in 2010, an even greater honour will probably be bestowed on him – a Knighthood, giving him the title of Sir Colin Montgomerie.

Nick Faldo was granted that distinction in 2009, and no-one in Europe would deny Monty is worthy of the same status.

While Ishikawa’s royal link is an affectionate one, born out admiration for the way he handles himself on and off the golf course, Montgomerie is justifiably proud that his talents have been
officially recognised by Britain’s royal family.

He said: “It was a wonderful feeling to receive the MBE in 1998 and even more special to be awarded the OBE. It is seen as a greater honour because it is bestowed less frequently.

“Going to Buckingham Palace the first time was a very special occasion. And going back there was something you can never even dream of. Both of my awards were very special to me, and it is nice that they were for different aspects of my career.

“The first was very much for my individual achievements, while I was delighted to dedicate the second one to my European team-mates, who helped me create another memorable chapter in my Ryder Cup story.

“I was the oldest player on the team, and as the most experienced Ryder Cup man I was the one at the helm, I suppose. In a way I took it for them, the whole team. It’s wonderful to be rewarded for your accomplishments in such an unique manner.”

While serving under five different captains, Montgomerie was recognised as Europe’s leader on the course during his eight Ryder Cup appearances.

And despite his youth and relative inexperience, Asian Team Captain Naomichi ‘Joe’ Ozaki was happy to pinpoint Ishikawa as the man to inspire his team when he made his debut in the 2009 Royal Trophy. As the Asian team’s highest ranked golfer and a hugely charismatic figure, the 18 year old Japanese star is certain to take on the role of their talisman again this time.

Captain Ozaki commented: “I sent Ryo out first in all of his three matches in his first Royal Trophy because I think he has the ability to inspire his team-mates. He is a special talent, someone who makes things happen. He is capable of achieving extraordinary things, and one moment of magic from him could lift the whole team.

“I must stress this is a team competition, and every player is equally important. But when you have someone with such personality and crowd appeal, it is only natural to try to use it to your advantage.”

“It will be very special having the European Team led by Colin Montgomerie. He is certainly a master of team golf and has a remarkable Ryder Cup record. The fact that he has never lost a singles match in Ryder Cup competition is truly outstanding;” said Lincoln Venancio, the Royal Trophy Managing Director.

“We are enthusiastically looking forward to Colin Montgomerie’s participation in the Royal Trophy;” concluded Lincoln Venancio.

The fourth edition of the Royal Trophy will take place on January 8 – 10, 2010 at the exclusive Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi, Thailand. The Royal Trophy is organized in Thailand by the Sports Authority of Thailand and Entertainment and Sports Co., Ltd. and is promoted internationally by Entertainment Group Limited.

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