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Colin Montgomerie leads Europe to Royal Trophy victory
January 11, 2010

Europe survived a dramatic fightback to beat holders Asia 8-1/2 - 7-1/2 on Sunday, winning the Royal Trophy for the third time in a thrilling match that went to the final hole.

Player-captain Colin Montgomerie’s Europe sealed victory when Henrik Stenson sank a nervy six-foot putt to halve with Thongchai Jaidee in the singles as the Thai favourite missed a 12-footer to take the competition to a sudden-death playoff.

Under pressure from a huge Amata Spring Country Club crowd hoping for him to miss, the Swede steadied himself with a deep breath and rolled the ball into the cup to deny Asia a second successive win after a superb performance on the last day.

“It was a do-or-die moment. I wasn’t playing good, I had to come back from three down and I knew I had the chance to win it,” Stenson told reporters.

“It wasn’t the easiest to hole but I finished it off.”

Europe led by a point going into the singles but were in a precarious position as Charlie Wi, Jeev Milkha Singh and Koumei Oda won on the last day for Asia.

Peter Hanson, Soren Kjeldsen and Pablo Martin replied with victories for the visitors while Montgomerie and Stenson came from behind to win important halves on the final hole.

Montgomerie said the triumph, and the intensity of the match, was the perfect preparation for October’s Ryder Cup in Wales where he will again skipper Europe.

“It was an incredible competition,” said the Scot after birdying the last to halve with China’s Liang Wenchong.

“We had a strong team and it was very close but I didn’t think it would be that close.

“All credit to this team of winners for fighting, they did great. It was a good start for European golf in a very important year.”

Thongchai, who has been one of the best performers in the Royal Trophy for Asia, was left rueing his missed putt at the last and apologised to his team mates.

“I was playing very well. It was a very tough final hole, it really wasn’t an easy putt,” he said.

“I let the team down, I want to apologise to them. I gave it all I had.”

The win left Europe with three Royal Trophy victories to Asia’s one. The competition returns to Thailand for a fifth year in 2011.

Asia captain Naomichi “Joe” Ozaki praised his players and said he had his sights set on taking the match to sudden-death.

“Before Thongchai stepped up to make the putt I had a scenario in my mind,” he said.

“I thought it would go in and we would throw our hats into the air and we would go into the playoff and win. It’s a shame it didn’t happen.”

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