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Mashahiro Kuramoto named Asian Captain for Royal Trophy

Masahiro Kuramoto, one of Japan 's most decorated golfers, will mastermind Asia 's bid for glory in the inaugural Royal Trophy.

Winner of 30 Japan Golf Tour titles in a sparkling playing career, Kuramoto was named Asian captain today and will pit his wits against Spanish great Severiano Ballesteros, who will lead Europe in the prestigious Ryder Cup-style matchplay event at Amata Spring Country Club, Thailand on January 5-8, 2006 .

"I am truly honoured to be selected to lead the Asian Team in this historic first edition of the Royal Trophy. This is a tremendous responsibility and I take it very seriously. I will do my very best in representing the three billion people of Asia ," said Kuramoto, who celebrated his 50th birthday last month.

Kuramoto, affectionately known as 'Massy' within the golfing fraternity, added: "I can assure the Asian people that our Team competing at the Royal Trophy will be very strong and will fight very hard to win the Trophy for our Continent.

"We will take the challenge of defeating Europe with the utmost commitment, dedication and the greatest fighting spirit. To represent your country is a great honour. To represent your Continent has to be one of the proudest moments of a sportsman."

A professional for more than two decades, Kuramoto received global acclaim for showing the confidence to test himself in the United States and Europe . One of his finest and most memorable achievements came in the 1982 British Open when he finished fourth, two shots shy of the triumphant Tom Watson. His last success in Japan came in the 2003 Acom International when he fired a record-breaking opening round of 59.

At a time when few Asian golfers travelled beyond the region, Kuramoto's willingness to take on the world's best players earned him widespread respect among his peers, including five-time Major champion Ballesteros.

Said Ballesteros: "I sincerely congratulate Massy on his appointment as captain of the Asian Team for the Royal Trophy and I am looking forward to competing against him with great intensity.

"We are coming to Thailand fully committed to win the Royal Trophy. But I am also sure that both the European and Asian Teams will uphold the great traditions of the game of golf and compete with great fairness and sportsmanship."

Kuramoto's appointment was also hailed by Japan Golf Tour Chairman Kosaku Shimada. He said: "On behalf of the Japan Tour and the Asian Tour I am pleased to officially announce Masahiro Kuramoto as the captain of the Asian Team for the Royal Trophy. Massy is the winner of 30 Japan Tour titles; a Japan Tour Lifetime Honorary Member and a truly legendary Asian golfer.

"We are confident that Massy will captain the Asian Team with great confidence and determination. We all know that this is a great responsibility and Massy's great experience and ability to thrive when under pressure was a critical factor in his selection."

Asian Tour Chief Executive Louis Martin said: "We expect that the Asian fans will rally behind Massy and our Asian Team and that they will support them in trying to defeat the Europeans in this historic Tournament."

Sanctioned by the Asian Tour, Japan Golf Tour and European Tour, the Royal Tr ophy will offer US$1.5 million in prize money with the winning team taking home US$1 million.

The respective Royal Trophy teams will comprise eight players, led by their non-playing captains. Over the two days of competition, there will be a total of 16 matches. The opening day of matches will feature four four-ball clashes in the morning followed by four foursomes contests in the afternoon.

The concluding day will feature the players going head-to-head in singles matches.

The Asian, Japan and European Tours have agreed that six players on each team will be chosen according to each Tour's Order of Merit table and the Official World Golf Ranking, with the two remaining players on each side being captain's picks.

The Royal Trophy will be held at Thailand 's new world-class private club Amata Spring Country Club. Sponsors of the Tournament include Heineken, BMW Thailand, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and i-mobile.

October 28, 2005

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