CHONBURI, THAILAND // A resolute Asia beat twice champions Europe 10-6 to win the Royal Trophy for the first time after dominating all three days of the match play contest. Imbued with confidence after carrying a five-point advantage into the final day, the Asians fought hard to prevent any chance of a European revival, surrendering only one point in the singles to secure their maiden title.
Japan's Toru Taniguchi holed the winning putt for Asia, who needed only two points to prevail over a wayward and weary European side who never found their feet in the competition. "I'm very happy because we lost the first two times," Taniguchi said. "I'm happy for all the players, the feel of this team has been great." The Asia captain Naomichi "Joe" Ozaki said the victory was a "dream come true" after his team's 12 1/2 to 3 1/2 thrashing by Europe in the previous edition.
"I really wanted this win and my team realised how I felt," said an elated Ozaki. "They knew how I wanted them to play. I knew they would do well. This win means so much." Europe drew first blood today when Paul Lawrie, the top performer on what captain Jose Maria Olazabal said had been a "rusty" European team, beat Liang Wen-Chong 3&2 to grab a point. The in-form Thai Prayad Marksaeng then romped to a 5&4 victory over the struggling Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal, who had an ugly round with four bogeys and three double bogeys, to allow Taniguchi to claim the trophy with his 7&6 win over Niclas Fasth.
Thongchai Jaidee added more gloom to a wretched week for Paul McGinley with a 5&4 win over the error-prone Irishman, who lost his unbeaten record in team golf as a result of the Asian triumph. "We knew what was going on in the other matches and we were so motivated," said Thongchai, one of five Asian players who led at the halfway stage of the singles. Johan Edfors made amends for a grim first two days, making four birdies in the first six holes on his way to a 5&4 win over SK Ho, while Soren Hansen secured a half after finishing all square with the 17-year-old Japanese player Ryo Ishikawa.
Oliver Wilson finished 3&2 over Hideto Tanihara and Nick Dougherty was 1 up against Charlie Wi as the Europeans salvaged some pride to win the singles 4 1/2 to 3 1/2. The Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal admitted his team had underperformed but heaped praise on the Asians for their consistency and decisive putting. "The Asian team has raised the bar, without a doubt," he said. "We will have to return next year angrier, with more determination to beat this team ? it's as simple as that."