GOLFING SUPERSTARS FULL OF PRAISE FOR ROYAL TROPHY


The seventh edition of the Royal Trophy left a lasting impression on both sets of players who served up this latest golfing classic, even though defeat was hard to take for an Asian team who saw their 7–3 lead evaporate in an incredible climax. Europe’s stunning Singles fightback eventually earned them a one point victory, 8 1/2 – 7 1/2.

This was another vintage Royal Trophy, which added to its growing reputation as one of the most prestigious and exciting events on the golfing calendar. The plaudits were led by José Maria Olazábal, who added another glittering entry into his ‘Captain’s Log’ after leading Europe to victory against all the odds, just as he did when they achieved the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ in the latest Ryder Cup.

Olazábal has repeatedly declared his support for the vision of his legendary Ryder Cup partner Seve Ballesteros, who predicted the Royal Trophy would ignite a boom in Asian golf when the Competition was launched in 2006. Seve could see that dream becoming a reality before his tragic death from cancer in 2011. And Olazábal said this latest thriller once again fulfilled Seve’s great hopes for the Ryder Cup–style clash between Asian and Europe.

Olazábal explained: “I am always happy to be here, because it is always an honour to be involved in something created by my great friend Seve.

“I know I have said this many times, but it means more to me knowing Seve started this Event. If I can contribute towards making this Event grow into the Asia vs Europe equivalent of the Ryder Cup, the way he wanted it to, I am happy to help. Everyone can see what a great Competition the Royal Trophy has developed into.

Olazábal was certainly not alone in singing the praises of the Royal Trophy. Double Ryder Cup winner David Howell, whose sensational singles victory over H.S. Kim – winning the final four holes when he found himself three down – launched the incredible swing in Europe’s favour. He clearly felt the Competition had taken another giant stride forward.

Howell commented: “This whole competition has been a fantastic experience for all of us. This is a wonderful event, between two great teams, and I love the idea that this competition brings two continents together, not just in terms of golfing combat but in the true spirit of sport.

“I certainly didn’t want to go down without a fight, and to actually win the last four holes and get the win was a real thrill for me. My heart was pumping so fast over those closing holes that I don’t know how I was able to hit the shots I managed to pull off.

“Everyone in those last six matches hung in, fought for everything, and played great golf, and it all turned out perfectly for us. You have to say something magical just happened out there.

“I have enjoyed every minute of it, and the Chinese people have been fantastic hosts. I would love to be part of it again when we defend the Royal Trophy, and I am sure everyone on our Team feels the same way.”

Even before the Event teed off, a quartet of celebrated Ryder Cup captains – Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam, Paul McGinley, and Olazábal – reaffirmed their belief that the Royal Trophy deserves universal support.

They make up the Competition’s European Players’ Committee, and in an official statement they announced: “The Royal Trophy is an important legacy of the late Seve Ballesteros; a tremendously gifted player, a most loyal teammate, an unrelenting competitor, an inspirational leader and one of the greatest contributors to the development of European golf.

“We were asked by Seve prior to his passing to be stewards of this magnificent competition and to guide the championship into his vision of establishment as one of the world’s most significant sporting events. We take this duty with great commitment and earnestly request the full, complete and sincere support from the entire golf family and community, especially the leadership of the professional game.”

Woosnam, winner of the US Masters in 1991 and a former world number one, added: “The Royal Trophy is a competition which features a very special meaning and carries a truly significant purpose. The coming together of the Royal Trophy and the People’s Republic of China as host nation for two editions of the matches is a very important development for our sport.”

Their Asian counterparts, Japan golfing legends Isao Aoki and Naomichi ‘Joe’ Ozaki and Indian star Jeev Milkha Singh, offered an equally enthusiastic endorsement.

Their statement said: “We officially invite all leaders of Asian and European professional golf to act in unison to protect, promote and strengthen this great series of matches which is of enormous value to the further development of the sport in our region.

“The Royal Trophy is the official, established and traditional golf competition between the continents of Asia and Europe. As Asian Players’ Committee Members, we uphold the stewardship of this magnificent competition with great allegiance and determination.

“The history and heritage of the Royal Trophy is unique in golf and sports; originating in concert with the vision of the late legendary Seve Ballesteros, featuring a beautiful Trophy graciously donated by the world’s longest-reigning monarch – His Majesty the King of Thailand – and bringing together the great continents of Asia and Europe.

“This extraordinary legacy is to be earnestly respected, celebrated and embraced. We sincerely believe that it is of critical importance and significance that the golf community at-large, including the senior leadership of the game in the two continents, comprehensively support this monumental championship.

“It is clear that Asian golf stands strongly behind the Royal Trophy, including our Asian Players’ Committee, Asian Team Captain Y.E. Yang, all of his players, the Japan Golf Tour Organisation, the China Golf Association and many others. Standing behind the Royal Trophy and the extending of complete support for it are the natural steps to be undertaken by the stakeholders of European and Asian golf.

“The Royal Trophy represents for Asian golf what the Ryder Cup represents for Europe; something of great value and very close to our hearts. This is our premier team competition and we are delighted to witness the fantastic growth it continues to experience.”

But possibly the most poignant tribute to Ballesteros and his remarkable foresight came from Royal Trophy Chief Tournament Director Andy Yamanaka, who is also Executive Director of the Japan Golf Tour.

He worked closely with Seve in the Competition’s formative years, and he said: “I think this competition has been very meaningful for golf in all of Asia, by giving our players the opportunity to compete against Europe, and to know what it feels like to play for your teammates, your captain, your country, and your continent.

“Playing for more than just yourself has brought something special to our players, and helped them to improve as golfers and as people.

“On behalf of the Japan Golf Tour, I can say we are most happy to be involved in this great event, and we believe it will continue to grow, and go from strength to strength.

“This is Seve’s legacy to us, and we owe so much to him. This week is for Seve, this competition is for Seve.

“We need to continue to show the same will and desire he displayed, and to celebrate his extraordinary vision and foresight. That way this competition will continue to grow.”

His words clearly moved the watching Olazábal, who added: This is a strong Event, and I know it has a very bright future. This is part of Seve’s legacy, and as long as we in the golfing world continued to support the Royal Trophy, we will keep Seve’s memory alive.”

The eighth edition of the Royal Trophy will be held at the 54-hole Dragon Lake Golf Club set amidst a picturesque mountain range and pristine Dragon Lake in the outskirts of Guangzhou, China’s third largest metropolis.

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