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Asia looking to repeat Dynasty Cup triumph

The Visa Dynasty Cup, the Ryder Cup style shootout between Asia and Japan, will be played at the worlds largest golf club, Mission Hills Golf Club, China, next April, organisers announced on Tuesday.

Asia pulled off a big shock with their 16 1/2 - 7 1/2 victory over Japan at the first Dynasty Cup 19 months ago which gave golf a huge boost in the region.

With the focus firmly on team showdowns following Europe's thrilling triumph over the United States in the Ryder Cup last month, the top players from Asia and Japan are gearing up for a gripping contest from April 15-17, 2005.

The Visa Dynasty Cup is sanctioned by the Asian Tour, Japan Golf Tour Organisation and China Golf Association.

Stung by their defeat at the hands of a fired-up Asia side, Japan are looking to bolster their squad by bringing in US-based stars Shigeki Maruyama and Hidemichi Tanaka.

Maruyama, winner of the 2002 World Cup for Japan with Toshi Izawa, is renowned as a good performer in matchplay-style events and the 'smiling assassin' would be a huge asset to the Japan team along with Tanaka, who is in his third season on the US PGA Tour. Shingo Katayama, nicknamed the 'Cat in the Hat', is currently leading the Japan Tour rankings thanks to two victories this season.

Thailand star Thongchai Jaidee, winner of this season's Malaysian Open which secured him a two-year exemption on the European Tour, is currently ahead in the Visa Dynasty Cup standings in Asia with another former Asian number one, Jyoti Randhawa of India, also well placed for an automatic pick. Chinese number one Zhang Lian-wei, who won all his matches last year, is tipped to feature prominently again for Asia.

Chinese Taipei veteran Hsieh Min-nan, who was widely praised for his leadership of Asia in 2003, and Japanese golf icon Isao Aoki will again captain their respective teams.

The match, title sponsored by Visa for the first time, will be played on the Jack Nicklaus-designed World Cup course at Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzhen, China. The complex was recently acknowledged by Guinness World Records as the largest golf club in the world with ten 18-hole courses open for play.

"Visa are expanding their support of golf in the region by backing the biennial match-up between Asia and Japan which was such a resounding success in 2003.

"Visa is delighted to be associated with the Dynasty Cup as title sponsor this year. The first event in 2003, which we supported as presenting sponsor, was a huge success and grew the reputation of golf in this region," said Mr Jim Allhusen, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Greater China, Visa.

The Visa Dynasty Cup is an ideal sponsorship and marketing platform to provide valuable benefits to over 600 member banks and financial institutions around Asia Pacific. We are confident that golf fans from around the regionmany of who are Visas valued cardholderswill be treated to an exciting tournament."

"Mission Hills is proud to see the return of the Visa Dynasty Cup after its inaugural edition held in 2003, said Dr David S. H. Chu, Chairman, Mission Hills Group. Upon our completion of 10 championship courses designed by 10 signature legends of the world, we have also recently renovated the Jack Nicklaus designed course to entice the challengers with a more difficult course for the Visa Dynasty Cup.

"We are proud to be the host venue and look forward to a battle royale between Asia and Japan. As with the Ryder Cup, I am sure this type of team competition will bring the best out of the players and capture the imagination of golf fans in the region."

Hsieh, who enjoyed success on the Asian and Japan circuits in the 1960s and 1970s, is tipping his team to repeat their heroic performance. "They played hard and well to win in 2003 and there is no reason that they cannot achieve victory again," he said. "I viewed the win as a huge success story for Asia rather than a failure for Japan. But I am certain Japan will be seeking revenge which will make for an engrossing encounter.

"The side is shaping up well with Thongchai Jaidee and Korea's Charlie Wi, who won the Taiwan Open last month, looking like sure starters."

Aoki, believes his team will hit back strongly after their morale-sapping defeat. "It was an unfortunate result for Japan but these things happen in team competitions," said Aoki. "Our players were depressed after losing but I am
sure they will come out fighting next April. The defeat will make us stronger and more determined.

"If players like Shigeki Maruyama and Hidemichi Tanaka are brought in as captain's picks, which has still to be decided, they would add strength to the team."

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