THE ROYAL TROPHY DEMANDS WARRIORS


Asia’s Royal Trophy stars have been urged to show “the hearts of warriors” as they bid to complete back–to–back victories over Europe for the first time.

That passionate rallying cry was issued by Chinese ace Zhang Lian–wei, who will serve as Asia’s Vice–Captain as the Royal Trophy moves to the Dragon Lake Golf Club in his home province of Guandong. Zhang desperately wants to see Asia retain the Royal Trophy after their exhilarating play-off victory in Brunei last year, and has promised to pass on a few tips about the course, which hosted the 2010 Asian Games golf tournament.

He said: “I will pass on all I know about the course, but my first bit of advice is that they must go out and play with the hearts of warriors, because they face a tremendous battle to win the Royal Trophy for a second year in succession.

“The European Team is not used to losing team events, and they will be hurting over their defeat last year. They will want revenge, and our players will have to be at their best to deny them.

“I wish I could be out there with them, because I still have that burning desire to compete, and to win. At heart I am still a player, and I will be rehearsing every shot with them, even though I am part of the backroom staff this time.

“I played in the first Royal Trophy in 2006, and I am delighted it has grown into one of the most prestigious and best–organised team events you could ever hope to see, with the best players from Asian and Europe on show.

“And it is fitting that it should be staged here in Guandong. It was here in 1949 that golf in China originated, because it was recognised that our climate would allow the game to be played in all four seasons.

“Of course I am immensely proud that such a massive competition is being played in the province where I was born, and where I still live. I will be even more proud when we lift the Royal trophy aloft again on Sunday!

“And make no mistake, we are one hundred per cent committed to winning. Unfortunately I was on the losing side when I played, but I believe the tide has turned and that Asia can – and will – retain the Royal Trophy for the first time.”

But regardless of the result, Zhang believes the mere presence of the Royal Trophy at Dragon Lake Golf Club in China for the next two years will give golf in the country a massive lift.

He added: “The prospect of golf returning to the Olympics in 2016 has focussed the minds and deeds of our government, and you can already see six, eight, or even more young players coming through and making their mark in the game.

“But it has also got me working even harder, and looking ahead in hope. Even though I will be 51 when the Olympic tournament is held, that will not stop me trying to make our team.

The Royal Trophy originated from a meeting held in 2001 and attended by the late legendary five-time Major winner Seve Ballesteros, his nephew Ivan Ballesteros and entrepreneur Lincoln Venancio. Seve, one of golf’s all-time greats, intended to gift the Asian continent with the same golf growth impetus the Ryder Cup imparted in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s.

In 2005 and in the lead-up to the inaugural edition of the Championship, a perpetual sixteen-kilogram solid-silver Trophy was donated by His Majesty the King of Thailand, the world’s longest reigning monarch.

The seventh edition of the Royal Trophy will be held on 20-22 December at the 54-hole two-hotel Dragon Lake Golf Club luxury resort located in the outskirts of Guangzhou, the People’s Republic of China’s third largest city. The Asian Team will be captained by Asia’s first-ever Major winner Y.E. Yang of Korea while the Europeans will be led by Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal.

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