QUIROS PRODUCES MAGIC ON THE 18TH HOLE TO KEEP EUROPEAN HOPES ALIVE AT THE ROYAL TROPHY


One of the most dramatic days in Royal Trophy ended with the classic tale of two halves, as the momentum swung first one way and then another in a pulsating Fourball session.

It looked as if the Chinese duo of Liang Wen–chong and Wu Ashun had enabled Asia to place one hand on the Royal Trophy when they completed a see–saw clash with David Howell and Marc Warren by winning the last two holes to claim a crucial half point. But Europe struck back immediately, with the big–hitting combination of Nicolas Colsaerts and Alvaro Quiros summoning up an identical finish to come back from two down with two to play to snatch a half from K.T.Kim and H.S.Kim of Korea.

The astonishing climax to a session that had earlier seen Asia and Europe claim one win apiece held everyone at Dragon Lake Golf Club in Guangzhou breathless with excitement. It was impossible to predict which way the pendulum would swing next, as the two halved matches had both seen fortunes fluctuate one way and another before their cliffhanging finishes.

When the dust settled, the scoreboard showed the two Teams had shared the Fourball session 2–2, allowing Asia to take a 5–3 lead into the Singles after winning the opening Foursomes 3–1.

But European Captain Jose Maria Olazabal was entitled to claim his Team had secured some vital momentum ahead of the closing session with the final flourish from fellow Spaniard Quiros. The way Quiros fashioned a winning birdie from behind a clump of trees – ballooning a nine iron high into the air from 131 metres to within six feet of the flag – was reminiscent of the swashbuckling golf made famous by Olazabal and the Royal Trophy’s founder, Seve Ballesteros.

Quiros revealed “Ollie came over to me and told me you have a shot – not an easy shot, but a shot to the green.

“I had a tree right in front of me, so I had to open the face of the club a little and try to hit a little fade into the green, and it finished around two meters away from the flag. So nothing unusual there!”

Asian Captain Y.E.Yang admitted he was totally caught up in the excitement of the closing stages, exchanging jubilation at the way Liang and Wu fought back to claim their half for the disappointment of seeing a three point overall lead torn from Asia’s grasp.

He said: “When we got a half from the second match I thought my fortune telling abilities would prove correct again, after I predicted the first session would end 3–1 and then said we could win this one 2 1/2 – 1 1/2.

“I have to say I was feeling very nervous as Liang Wen–chong and Wu Ashun were hitting their shots to the final hole, and even more nervous as the final match got to the 18th hole.

“It was a little disappointing to get only a half from that match, but hopefully we still have the momentum in our favour, so we can finish the job on Sunday.”

K.T. Kim, the man who famously holed the winning putt in the play–off that saw Asia claim their second Royal Trophy triumph, was philosophical about leaving the 18th hole feeling frustrated this time.

He said: “We have to take the positives from situations like that, and remember the good play that took us into the lead rather than the feeling of not being able to close the match out.

“At least we did not lose the point, and after relying heavily on my partner for most of the first two days I was encouraged that I was starting to play better towards the end of our match.”

European Captain Olazabal felt the half point secured by Quiros and Colsaerts was the ideal way for his team to end day two, saying they felt they had taken the momentum away from their opponents.

He commented: “I wouldn’t say I was nervous towards the end of the day, but I was certainly excited and that is a good feeling to have.

“When David and Marc’s match was slipping away from us the picture looked pretty dark, because I felt we were pretty sure of two points, and that we could win the session if Nicolas and Alvaro could turn things around.

“But getting a half in the last match and finishing all square in the Fourball session keeps our hopes of winning the Royal Trophy alive. We are still two points behind, but if we can get off to a good start and put pressure on the Asian Team it is game on.”

In the final session of the Royal Trophy eight Singles matches will be played starting from 11:00am. The seventh edition of the Royal Trophy is held at the Dragon Lake Golf Club in Guangzhou, China. Europe and Asia are competing for stewardship of the perpetual solid-silver sixteen-kilogram Trophy which was graciously donated by His Majesty the King of Thailand.

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