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Joe Osaki to captain Asians in Royal Trophy

Japan's Naomichi "Joe" Ozaki has been named captain of the Asian team for next year's Royal Trophy against Europe in Bangkok, organisers said on Tuesday.

The veteran, who has notched up 35 tour victories since turning professional 29 years ago, topped a list of high-profile candidates to lead the team in the second edition of the matchplay event.

Ozaki, 50, will choose an eight-man team to face a European side headed by Seve Ballesteros, who led them to a 9-7 victory in January this year.

Both are non-playing captains and are expected to name their teams next month. Swedish pair Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson have already been selected to play for Europe.

Ozaki said facing the Ryder Cup holders was a daunting prospect, but with home support and a determined approach, the Asian team is up to the challenge.

"(Winning) will be very difficult as Europe is the proud holder of the trophy, and they have a lot of players with a huge amount of experience of team golf to call on," he said in a statement.

"But we expect to counter that with a fierce will to win and wisely developed strategy."

The Royal Trophy was donated by Thailand's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej in the year of his Diamond Jubilee and will be played in Bangkok every year until 2010, after which it will alternate between the two continents.

The Amata Spring Country Club in Bangkok will host the 2007 event from January 12-14.

November 1, 2006


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