Sunday, January 11, 2009

Paul Lawrie finishes on a high
but Europe lose Royal Trophy
to Asia by 10-6 margin

Asia held off a final day singles resurgence from Europe to secure an historic first victory in the threee-day Royal Trophy match.
Europe won the singles 4 1/2-3 1/2 but Asia scored a 10-6 victory overall at Amata Spring Country Club near Bangkok, Thailand.
After establishing a 5pt advantage over the first two days of the team match-play event, Asia required just two points from the eight Sunday singles matches.
Prayad Marksaeng beat Pablo Larrazabal 5 and 4 after Paul Lawrie, pictured above by Cal Carson Golf Agency, had claimed a 3 and 2 triumph over Liang Wen-chong before Toru Taniguchi sank the winning putt as he cruised to a 7 and 6 win over Niclas Fasth to send the huge home crowds into ecstasy.
European captain José Maria Olazábal - deputising for Seve Ballesteros, who is recovering from surgery on a brain tumour - had hoped the team he chose could perform a final day miracle escape but it was not to be for the visitors.
Paul Lawrie won the day's second match but disappointing performances from Larrazabal and Fasth, playing in the fourth and seventh matches respectively, ensured Asia an unassailable lead.
Lawrie was one of the more successful European players with 2 1/2pt earned out of a possible three on this his comeback to international golf. He played in the 1999 Ryder Cup match after his dramatic Open win at Carnoustie that year.
Nick Dougherty, Oliver Wilson and Johan Edfors recorded their first points of the week, but their wins were ultimately in vain as Asia emerged victorious.
Olazábal congratulated Joe Ozaki's Asian team for their triumph before hinting Ballesteros would return to reclaim the trophy in 2010.
"My last words are for Seve," said the Spaniard as he addressed his eight-man team.
"He is recovering from some health issues, but even though I'm the captain this year, I might not be the captain next year - and I can assure you he is going to be tougher than I was."
"I want to thank my players for trying hard this week," he added."We lost, it hurts but that will make us better in the future."
Olazábal’s players were united in their praise for their captain, most notably Hansen and Dougherty.
Hansen said: “Olly has been a great captain. This week is all about the players and we didn’t perform as we can. There were eight guys out there in front of us and we didn’t beat them, didn’t get the putts in the hole at the right time. Olly has been great this week. He was great as an assistant to Faldo at The Ryder Cup and I would love to play under him in the future.”
Dougherty said: It’s disappointing and I feel really sorry for Olly because he has done a great job, phenomenal. He is going to be a very worthy Ryder Cup captain one day. Everything he does is class: his motivation, the way he handles people, everything like that.
“You can imagine what the atmosphere was like for us. After the first day we were sitting around saying ‘what the hell happened?’, then on the second day it was a double ‘what the hell happened?’ But even through all of that he was brilliant. He got the message across but was funny at the right time while still getting the message across. You can’t help but respect a guy like that anyway and all he achieved in the game.”

Last day singles
ASIA 3 1/2, EUROPE 4 1/2
(Asian names first):
Ryo Ishikawa (Jpn) halved with Soren Hansen (Den).
Liang Wen-chong (PRC) lost to Paul Lawrie (Sco) 3 and 2.
Charlie Wi (Kor) lost to Nick Dougherty (Eng) 1 hole.
Prayad Marksaeng (Tha) beat Pablo Larrazabal (Esp) 5 and 4.
Hideto Tanihara (Tha) lost to Oliver Wilson (Eng) 3 and 2.
S K Ho (Kor) lost to Johan Edfors (Swe) 5 and 4.
Toru Taniguchi (Jpn) bt Niclas Fasth (Swe) 7 and 6.
Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) bt Paul McGinley (Ire) 5 and 4.



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