BANGKOK, Thailand – Of all the players representing Europe or Asia in this week’s Royal Trophy match-play event, none would have been less likely to receive a call-up than Spain’s Pablo Martin before his stunning turnaround.
A couple of months ago, Martin was in danger of losing his European Tour card. Since then he has won the Alfred Dunhill Championship, led the South African Open entering the final round, and is now preparing to help Europe wrest back the Royal Trophy from Asia.
Martin is part of a Swedish-themed European Team to contest the event, beginning Friday at the Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi, a seaside province southeast of the Thailand capital.
“It has been an amazing turnaround in just a few weeks, one I can hardly believe myself,” Martin said Wednesday. “I have gone from a position where I hard to fight to keep my tour card, to suddenly find myself playing for Europe alongside some of the biggest names in the game.”
The 24-year-old described it as “a blessing” to be able to take part in an event closely associated with his compatriot Seve Ballesteros, who was Europe’s captain in the first two editions of the Royal Trophy in 2006 and ’07.
Ballesteros has been dealing with a brain tumor since 2008.
Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie will be Europe’s playing captain this year, leading a team with a Swedish core that includes Henrik Stensson, Robert Kalsson, Alexander Noren and Peter Hanson.
Martin, England’s Simon Dyson and Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen were Europe’s other options for the event, which involves alternate-shot foursomes, fourball and singles matches.
Asia’s non-playing captain Naomichi ‘Joe’ Ozaki will be hoping to pick up from last year, when he oversaw a 10-6 win for Asia.
The Thai duo of Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaeng will again be the local favorites at Amata Springs. Korea’s Charlie Wi, China’s Liang Wenchong and rising Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa also return from the 2009 winning team.
Joining them will be India’s Jeev Milkha Singh and Gaganjeet Bhullar and Japan’s Koumei Oda.