EUROPEAN PRAISE FOR THE ROYAL TROPHY


The seventh edition of the Royal Trophy once again captured the imagination of the golfing public as Europe staged a glorious final day fightback to beat Asia 8 ½ – 7 ½, and continued to fulfill the predictions of some of the game’s true legends.

Since its launch in 2006, some of the biggest names in golf have repeatedly expressed their confidence that it would develop into a glorious spectacle, and become an unmissable event on the golfing calendar.

The original and most famous visionary was the late legendary Seve Ballesteros. He could already see his dream for the competition becoming a reality before his tragic death from brain cancer in 2011.

Seve’s original declaration of intent has proved to be uncannily accurate. When he set the wheels in motion, the five-time Major champion announced: “The Royal Trophy has a great future ahead. The Ryder Cup started in 1927 – the Royal Trophy started in 2006, and who knows, in a few years we may be talking about it being one of the best sporting events in the world.

“I feel the Royal Trophy will change the face of Asian golf and help to make it much stronger, just as the Ryder Cup did for Europe. I believe the Royal Trophy will grow into one of world’s greatest sporting competitions.”

When his long and brave battle against illness forced him to relinquish the European captaincy in 2009, Seve found an equally enthusiastic supporter of the competition in his celebrated Ryder Cup partner José María Olazábal. Ollie, who led Europe to victory at the third attempt in 2013, was clearly hooked right from the start.

He commented: “I knew from being European Captain in 2009 that Seve was definitely on the right track in saying the Royal Trophy had the potential to be a truly great sporting contest.

“I feel that more than ever after being part of this latest edition, which in my opinion provided a feast of top class golf. I believe Seve’s memory has inspired some great feats over the past year and a half – and will continue to do so down the years.”

The only other golfer to serve as European Captain, Colin Montgomerie, also wasted no time in forecasting a huge future for the competition. After the first of his two victories in 2010, he said: “This is my first taste of the Royal Trophy, and I have been very, very impressed with everything.

“I think the Royal Trophy can only expand, as can golf in Asia. This is the area of the world that is expanding in so many areas of life, not only in sport. The way golf is growing here in Asia shows Seve’s vision in founding this event was absolutely right. He saw this as the area that would expand most, and how true that is.

“There is no doubt Asian golf is far stronger than it was four or five years ago, and once they become a bit more battle-hardened in team match play they really will be a handful for any European team.

“This competition is far too special for anyone with the best interests of the game at heart not to be part of it. These matches, the spirit they are played in and the standard of play on view, are a great advertisement for the game. And with that in mind, I would also like to see the Asian Tour supporting the event.

“The Japan Golf Tour has done a great job with their huge commitment to the event. If you could see that same commitment from the European and Asian Tours, I think the Royal Trophy has an even brighter future.”

The players have been just as impressed, particularly Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, the hottest player in the game after dominating the US and European play-offs in 2013. Stenson has made a record five Royal Trophy appearances for Europe.

When he returned to Royal Trophy action in 2010 after missing Asia’s 2009 victory, he was amazed at just how rapidly the competition was growing, both in stature and in terms of the fierce rivalry developing between Europe and Asia.

After Europe’s sensational comeback to turn a 6-2 deficit into a 9-7 victory in 2011, he said: “My first two Royal Trophy appearances did not really prepare me for the intensity of the battles we have faced in my last two, although perhaps I should have been expecting it after I missed the Asian victory in 2009.

“It really is developing along Ryder Cup lines, and I will certainly be back if I am selected again, because I love being part of this fantastic atmosphere.

“I have still not finished on a losing side in four editions of the Royal Trophy – but when I see how close it was this year, and realize five of the eight Asian players were 25 or under, I wonder how long that can continue. They are only going to get better, and they will have learned a lot from this year’s amazing swings in fortune. It is going to be tougher and tougher to keep beating them in future years.”

Stenson’s crystal ball did not lie to him – just a year later he finished on the losing side for the first time.

Fellow Swede Robert Karlsson – like Stenson a European Order of Merit champion – added to the chorus of praise. He was also a member of that winning team in 2011, and he commented: “This competition has grown enormously since I was last here in 2007. There are better players and a lot more spectators.

“Asian golf is producing more top quality players and there is a truly great atmosphere around this event. The 2007 competition was one of the first, but I hope we can all help it continue to progress, because it is fantastic to be here playing in such a wonderful atmosphere.”

The European Tour is also an institution which foresaw the great potential and bright future of the Royal Trophy from a very early stage. In an official message for the inaugural edition of the championship the Tour’s Chief Executive George O’Grady said: “Anyone fortunate enough to experience the unique atmosphere of The Ryder Cup down the years will readily appreciate the competitiveness and passion associated with team golf. No-one understood that better than Seve Ballesteros so it comes as no surprise that one of our greatest players will lead Europe in the inaugural playing of the Royal Trophy…”

“The Ryder Cup has grown into a highly successful and competitive event over the past 25 years and the Royal Trophy has the capacity to become an equally invigorating contest,” added the European Tour Chief.

“We would like to thank His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand for His vision in the creation of this outstanding new event and to our co-sanctioning partners in the venture, the Asian Tour and the Japan Tour,” concluded O’Grady in reference to the gracious donation of the Royal Trophy by the world’s longest reigning monarch and the co-sanctioning by the Asian Tour and the Japan Tour.

The seventh edition of the Royal Trophy was held at the Dragon Lake Golf Club set amidst the picturesque mountain range and pristine Dragon Lake in the outskirts of Guangzhou, China’s third largest metropolis. The Europeans will defend the stewardship of the Trophy on 19-21 December 2014, when the eighth edition of the championship will remain at Dragon Lake Golf Club.

The Royal Trophy - Europe vs Asia Golf Championship
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