OLAZABAL TELLS HOWELL HE IS EUROPE’S ‘NEW MONTY’


José Maria Olazábal has dubbed David Howell “the new Monty” for his part in totally transforming the course of the 2013 Royal Trophy.

Europe seemed to be heading for a second successive defeat in the latest drama–packed Europe vs Asia competition until Howell turned his match against Japan Golf Tour Order of Merit runner–up H.S. Kim on its head. Three down with four holes to play, Howell won every one of those remaining holes to win one up, and his heroics seemed to inspire his European team–mates.

After losing the first two Singles matches to slip 7–3 behind, Olazábal’s team won five of the remaining six matches, and halved the other, to complete an incredible 8 1/2 – 7 1/2 victory. And Olazábal said Howell’s part in this European triumph reminded him of Colin Montgomerie’s famous Singles clash with Mark Calcavecchia at the 1991 Ryder Cup.

Monty was four down with four to play at Kiawah Island, but with former open champion Calcavecchia choking badly over the final four holes, the Scottish star was able to win all four to claim an amazing half point. Unfortunately that was not enough to inspire a European victory, as Bernhard Langer’s six foot miss on the final hole handed America the Ryder Cup for the first time in eight years.

Olazábal played in that 1991 Ryder Cup and said he could not help thinking back to it as Howell completed his remarkable fightback.

Ollie said: “That match between Colin Montgomerie and Mark Calcavecchia has rightly gone down in Ryder Cup folklore because it was one of the most amazing transformations you could ever hope to see.

“And David’s comeback to win his match deserves to be mentioned in the same breath. The Royal Trophy is building its own traditions and legacies, and that Singles victory was one that will be recalled with awe in future years.

“I told David he was the new Monty because of the manner of his victory. And as a man who has played in two winning Ryder Cup teams himself, David knew exactly what I was referring to. In some ways, David’s was the more remarkable turnaround.

“I was there in 1991 and Colin would be the first to tell you he got a lot of help from Calcavecchia over the closing holes. It is true David’s opponent bogeyed three of those last four holes. But he was five under through the first 14, and if David had not applied constant pressure on H.S. Kim with some brilliant shots there is no way the match would have turned so dramatically.

“Colin is another great admirer of the Royal Trophy after being a winning player–captain in 2010 and 2011, so I’m sure he will have been following events at Dragon Lake Golf Club very closely.

“I have told David he should mention to Colin what I said about him being the new Monty – and that he should point out he got a win, not just a half, and that Europe were winners too! I’d like to see Colin’s face when that happens!”

Howell is no stranger to altering the course of an event featuring a European team. He was credited with doing the same thing when he made his Ryder Cup debut in 2004. The Americans were threatening to seize back the initiative despite trailing by five points after day one at Oakland Hills. They won two of the morning Fourballs on day two, halved the other, and Howell and Paul Casey were one down with two to play against Jim Furyk and Chad Campbell.

But Howell responded by hitting a magnificent six iron to within five feet of the flag for a winning birdie at 17, and he and Casey also won the last hole to triumph one up, providing another massive momentum swing. Europe went on to win by a thumping 18 ½ – 9 ½ margin, and Howell was awarded shot of the year for that stunning six iron approach.

The eighth edition of the Royal Trophy will be held on 19-21 December 2014 at the 54-hole Dragon Lake Golf Club, set amidst the mountain range and Dragon Lake in the outskirts of southern China’s Guangzhou Municipality.

The late legendary five-time Major winner Seve Ballesteros captained the European Team in the two inaugural editions of the event, Colin Montgomerie OBE led the Europeans in 2010 and 2011 and José Maria Olazábal undertook the leadership role in 2009, 2012 and 2013.

The Asian Team was captained by 30-time Japan Tour tournament title winner Masahiro Kuramoto in 2006 and then was led by two-time Japan Tour Order of Merit winner Naomichi ‘Joe’ Ozaki for a remarkable five consecutive editions. In 2013, Y.E. Yang, Asia’s first-ever Major winner, led the Asian Team in their defense of the perpetual sixteen-kilogram solid-silver Trophy graciously donated by His Majesty the King of Thailand.

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