SCANDINAVIAN ATTACK ON ASIA


When Henrik Stenson made his second Royal Trophy appearance in 2007, he mischievously suggested Swedish should be the official language of the European team room. He also put forward the notion that Gothenburg – his birthplace – should be considered as a future host venue for the Royal Trophy Matches.

Those ideas may seem a touch outrageous, but the world’s eighth-ranked player knew he would not be short of support if he put them forward for official approval. Stenson was flanked by three of his countrymen in 2007, as Sweden supplied half of the eight-man European Team.

It could be a similar story in the fourth edition of the Royal Trophy, with Stenson again being joined in Thailand by three of his accomplished Swedish compatriots – 2008 European number one Robert Karlsson, plus Peter Hanson and Alexander Noren, both European Tour winners in 2009.

In fact, the Scandinavian influence will be even more pronounced this time, with Soren Kjeldsen becoming the third Danish golfer to compete in the Royal Trophy, following in the footsteps of Thomas Bjorn and Soren Hansen.

Asian Captain Joe Ozaki will not want to be reminded of how well Europe played the last time they fielded a quartet of Swedes. In that unforgettable occasion the Japanese golfing giant and winner of thirty five career titles was making his debut in charge of the Asian Team when Stenson and company – with ten wins between them in the previous 12 months – inspired Europe to a resounding victory over Asia. Making the memories of that painful encounter even clearer in Ozaki’s mind will be the fact that Karlsson was also a member of that triumphant and crushing European golfing battalion.  

However, the legendary Ozaki will go into the fourth edition of the Royal Trophy with much greater confidence, after conquering the Europeans and securing a historic first-ever victory for Asia by a score of 10-6 in January 2009. He will certainly be looking to gain revenge against Stenson and Karlsson, but on any account it will take a supreme effort from his Team to achieve a repeat victory.

The Swedish pair combined to win the World Cup of Golf for their country in 2008, secured a second place finish in the 2009 edition of the Tournament just over a month ago, have individually climbed into the top ten of the world rankings in the past year and are both hardened Ryder Cup campaigners. They also know well that their compatriots joining them in the European campaign to re-gain stewardship of the Royal Trophy – Hanson and Noren – are in top form and are capable of securing their fair share of points in the foursomes, four-ball and singles matches.

To make matters more worrisome for the Asian Team skipper, Kjeldsen is very much at home in the company of his fellow Scandinavians, and would be able to team up effectively with any of them.

It may just be that eight-time European Tour Order of Merit champion Colin Montgomerie, the current Royal Trophy and Ryder Cup Captain for Europe, may have to start considering taking Swedish lessons!

“Sweden and Scandinavia are producing great golfers and it is no surprise that they are a core element of the European Team for the next edition of the Royal Trophy;” said Royal Trophy Managing Director, Lincoln Venancio.

“It is also true that the Swedish players have performed well at the past editions of the Royal Trophy and have won critical matches. We expect that the European Team will continue to feature a good number of Scandinavians for many years into the future;” added 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 co-organized by the Sports Authority of Thailand, Entertainment and Sports Co., Ltd., and is promoted internationally by Entertainment Group Limited.

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