Europeans complete crushing victory
captain Seve Ballesteros was unsurprised by his team's crushing
victory against Asia in the Royal Trophy.
The Europeans won five of the eight singles match-ups and lost
just one to complete a 12.5-3.5 rout of Joe Ozaki's side and the
Spanish legend felt the quality and experience of his team was the
difference between the line-ups.
"That was fantastic golf from the European side," he
said. "These are Ryder Cup champions. They beat the Americans
very badly, so this was not a surprise. The Asian team played very
well, but we played much better.
"I think a couple of things made the difference. The Asian
team did not have quite the experience that the Europeans had and
our side played unbelievable golf."
Ballesteros' eight-man team boasted five of the side that hammered
the Americans at the K Club and needed just one-and-a-half points
on the third and final day to retain the Royal Trophy and two to
win it again outright after last year's 9-7 result.
Lee Westwood put the first points on the board with a 4&3 win
over Toru Taniguchi. Westwood capitalised on a run of four birdies
in five holes after the turn, a sequence that ended his Japanese
Paul McGinley then went three up with three to play in his match
with Thaworn Wiratchant to virtually guarantee Europe's retention
of the title but it was Ryder Cup hero Darren Clarke who actually
put the half-point required on the scoreboard, with his draw with
Johan Edfors then won his clash with SK Ho 3&2 to take Europe's
tally to nine points and from there was also victory for Anthony
Wall, who beat Tetsuji Hiratsuka 4&2.
Robert Karlsson beat Jeev Milkha Singh 3&2, before McGinley
finally put his match to bed, winning 2&1.
The only bright spot for the Asians came in the final match when
veteran Thai golfer Thongchai Jaidee defeated Niclas Fasth 2&1
while YE Yang, who drew with Henrik Stenson, picked up the remaining
half for Joe Ozaki's team.
"There was very good golf from both teams," said Ballesteros.
"Match play is difficult, you don't know what will happen.
"The Asian team have to be proud of what they have done because
the score does not show their potential and they have better potential
than that. But the European team is just better."
Ozaki was disconsolate after his team's defeat, which saw the Asians
comprehensively beaten in all three days of the event, with Jaidee's
win in the singles their only victory of the competition.
"I expected that the game would be much closer but this is
my first experience of being a captain at such an event and I want
to take full responsibility for this loss," he said.
"I know I'll think 'I should have done this, I should have
that,' but maybe next time I will be able to apply those lessons."
Clarke, who was given a run for his money by 22-year-old Meesawat
before both players picked up their balls on the 18th green to halve
the match, praised his team-mates for a clinical showing.
"Of course part of the result was because the Asians didn't
have a great week but we showed how strong we are," said the
Ulsterman. "We all played well.
"The course, when you get here and play it, looks straightforward
and simple but it's different when you play it in a tournament and
that was the case here.
"Match play is a little easier than stroke play at this time
of the year and we are happy with what we have achieved."
The Royal Trophy, The Amata Spring Country Club, Bangkok, Thailand:
Singles (European names first):
Lee Westwood (Eng) bt Toru Taniguchi (Jpn) 4&3
Darren Clarke (NIrl) halved with Prom Meesawat (Tha)
Johan Edfors (Swe) bt SK Ho (Kor) 3&2
Paul McGinley (Irl) bt Thaworn Wiratchant (Tha) 2&1
Anthony Wall (Eng) bt Tetsuji Hiratsuka (Jpn) 4&2
Robert Karlsson (Swe) bt Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind) 3&2
Henrik Stenson (Swe) halved with YE Yang (Kor)
Niclas Fasth (Swe) lost to Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 2&1
Final Match Score: Europe 12.5 Asia 3.5
January 14, 2007