Ballesteros to Lead Europe at Royal Trophy


European TourDavid Howell of England and Ireland's Paul McGinley - respectively the winner of the first event on The 2006 European Tour International Schedule and the last tournament of the 2005 season - will spearhead the European challenge against Asia in The Royal Trophy at Amata Spring Golf Club, Bangkok, Thailand, from January 7-8, 2006.
This new event, sanctioned by the European, Japan and Asian Tours and carrying a prize fund of $1,500,000, will comprise a series of 16 matches involving foursomes, four-ball and singles.
The eight-man European Team, led by non-playing captain Seve Ballesteros of Spain, is completed by Thomas Bjrn of Denmark, England's Kenneth Ferrie, Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, Swede Henrik Stenson and the two wildcard picks, Nick Faldo of England and Ian Woosnam of Wales. Japan's Masahiro Kuramoto, one of Asia's most decorated golfers with 30 Japan Tour titles to his name, will skipper the home side.
Howell will return to the Far East in a confident mood after beating world No. 1 Tiger Woods by three shots to win the HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai during November, an event which marked the start of The 2006 European Tour season. The victory moved the Englishman up to 13th place on the Official World Golf Ranking.
However, Howell's successes, in common with four of his Royal Trophy team mates and captain, have not been confined to individual golf. In 2004, he played a key role in Europe's record-breaking 18 - 9 points victory over the Americans in the Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills, USA.
McGinley, who two years earlier holed the winning putt for Europe at The De Vere Belfry, recently capped his most successful campaign on The European Tour with victory in the season-ending Volvo Masters at Valderrama, Spain, while one of the Irishman's Ryder Cup team-mates from 2002, Bjrn, was another winner in 2005 when he clinched The Daily Telegraph Dunlop Masters at the Marriott Forest of Arden.
Completing the Ryder Cup connection are the men who have been chosen to captain the European Team in the next two matches. Woosnam will lead the side for The 36th Ryder Cup at The K Club, Straffan, Co. Kildare, Ireland, next September, while Faldo will fulfil the prestigious role at Valhalla Golf Club, Louisville, Kentucky, USA, in 2008. The Englishman also has the honour of holding the playing record for the competition with a total of 11 appearances.
'The pressure in team golf is unlike anything else in the sport: you are playing not only for yourself, but also your team, your continent and your fans,' said Ballesteros, Europe's victorious Ryder Cup Captain in 1997. 'In this environment, experience is essential and Nick and Ian are two of the all-time greats. I am proud to have both of them on our team for the Royal Trophy.
'We have a very powerful European team. Nick and Ian bring tremendous experience while David and Paul are playing excellent golf right now and are both coming from winning big tournaments.'
For Ferrie, McDowell and Stenson, The Royal Trophy at Amata Spring Golf Club will provide them with the perfect opportunity to test their match play skills against the finest players in Asia as they chase a place in Woosnam's Ryder Cup line-up for September.
The Royal Trophy is expected to attract massive galleries as Asian fans enjoy their first opportunity in history to cheer for their own Asian people in a major 'team sports' event. The winning continent will be awarded stewardship over the Royal Trophy which has been donated by His Majesty the King of Thailand.
Related links:
  • TGC Airtimes

  • Full Coverage - The Royal Trophy