Double Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal has played hundreds of different golf courses around the world – but he insisted the newly–opened King Course at Dragon Lake Golf Club is “truly unique”.

Europe’s Royal Trophy Captain partnered his Asian counterpart Y.E. Yang in a practice round, as they became the first professionals to sample the spectacular lay–out which winds through the mountain range overlooking the Dragon Lake in Guangzhou. And Olazabal admitted the course took his breath away – quite literally
at times.

He said: “I have to say it is a course that demands a good head for heights, and it is not for the faint–hearted because the elevations on some holes are quite incredible.

“But the reward is that the scenery around the course is pretty breath–taking, and it is a very good test of golf as well because if you don’t hit the fairways you are not going to score well around here.

“It is quite challenging from the back tees, but a bit more forgiving if you move forward a little to the other tees, so I think amateur golfers will have a lot of fun playing from there. It is truly unique in my experience.”

Asian Team Captain Yang, the continent’s first Major champion when he captured the PGA Championship title in 2009, said he too had never seen a course like it before.

He explained: “Some of the changes in elevation from tee to fairway are actually mind–boggling. On some of the holes we played the drop was more than a hundred yards.

“But once you come to terms with how different it is, there is a lot of fun to be had in trying to meet the challenge. It is a very dramatic course and some of the views are just wonderful.

Olazabal also enjoyed the distinction of being the first guest to stay at the luxurious King Hotel attached to the golf club, and said he hoped that would set a tone for the rest of the week.

He added: “I like the idea of being first at everything – if we finish first at the Royal Trophy itself I will be a very happy man.

“Like the golf course the hotel is a bit of a one–off, the first golf–themed hotel in China, and I was very impressed with the range of exhibits and pictures they have on show.

“I especially liked the replica of the Claret Jug and the many pictures of St Andrews. To have won that particular trophy at the home of golf would have been very special, although it’s pretty good to have two green jackets from the Masters instead.”

Each of the four floors in the boutique King Hotel has been designed and decorated in-line with the Majors of golf respectively. During this week of the Royal Trophy, the ultra-luxurious establishment is dedicated exclusively to host the Asian and European Teams.      

“But I would still like to get my hands on a different Trophy this time to make it the perfect week,” added Olazabal referring to the perpetual sixteen-kilogram solid-silver Royal Trophy which was graciously donated by the world’s longest reigning monarch, His Majesty the King of Thailand.  

The seventh edition of the Royal Trophy will be played on 20-22 December at the Asian Games Course of the Dragon Lake Golf Club. The 54-hole facility features two 27-hole golf courses, two hotels and a European-style village – amongst many other attractions.

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