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Royal Trophy team beginning to take shape

Ryder Cup hero Paul McGinley has been unveiled as the second European team player for the inaugural Royal Trophy tournament against Asia in Bangkok, Thailand in January.

The Irish ace, winner of the European Tour's season-ending Volvo Masters in Valderrama, Spain, last month, has given a massive boost to the pioneering event by confirming he will take part. He joins the winner of last week's HSBC Champions in Shanghai, David Howell, as confirmed players for the European team.

"I know from my Ryder Cup experiences what a thrill it is to represent Europe at team golf," said McGinley. "The Royal Trophy is a new and very exciting challenge and I'm delighted to be involved. I'm looking forward to going head to head with the best golfers in Asia and to fighting for Europe under Seve's leadership."

European captain Seve Ballesteros hailed McGinley's confirmation. "Paul is one of the very best players in Europe," said the Spanish legend. "He has been in great form this season and is a proven winner in team golf. He will be a huge asset to our European team."

McGinley will always be remembered as the man who holed the winning putt in the 2002 Ryder Cup against the United States at the Belfry in England. His 10-footer on the 18th green secured a half with Jim Furyk and with it the famous trophy for Europe.

He continued his Ryder Cup heroics last year, scoring two-and-a-half points out of three, including a final-day singles victory over Stewart Cink, as Europe retained the trophy in record-breaking fashion at Oakland Hills, Michigan.

The Royal Trophy - to be held on January 5-8 at Thailand's world-class Amata Spring Country Club - has been sanctioned by the Asian, Japan and European Tours.

Each team will comprise eight players, led by a non-playing captain, competing in a series of 16 matches involving foursomes, four-ball and singles.

Six players on each team will be chosen according to each Tour's Order of Merit table and the world rankings, with the two remaining players on each side being captain's picks.

McGinley finished the year as the second-highest European player in the European Order of Merit standings after a season that saw him claim runner-up spot in both the BMW Championship and HSBC World Match Play Championship before ending the 2005 Tour on a high with a remarkable victory at Valderrama.

Five-time major winner Ballesteros, whose charisma and competitiveness were critical in turning the Ryder Cup into the most compelling viewing in world golf, will spearhead the European challenge as non-playing captain.

Masahiro "Massy" Kuramoto, one of Asia's most decorated golfers with 30 Japan Tour titles to his name, will captain the Asian team.


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