Europe Hangs On to Win Royal Trophy


European TourBANGKOK, Thailand -- Led by two-time Ryder Cupper Paul McGinley, the European team won just three points in Sunday's singles matches, but it was enough to win the first-ever Royal Trophy, 9-7, at Amata Spring Country Club.
The European squad led 6-2 entering the final day with eight singles matches slated to determine the events first winner. Asia took the first singles match as Yasuharo Imano beat Englishman David Howell, 2-up.
Seve Ballesteros
Seve Ballesteros holds aloft the Royal Trophy after Europe defeated Asia.
McGinley held off Asian Tour standout Lian-Wei Zhang, 2 and 1. Graeme McDowell then extended the Europeans lead to 8-3 with a 3 and 2 win over Jyoti Randhawa.
The Asian team won the next two matches as Arjun Atwal downed 11-time Ryder Cupper Nick Faldo, 3 and 2. Eight-time European Ryder Cup member Ian Woosnam dropped his match with Thaworn Wiratchant, 2 and 1.
Needing to win on of the last three matches, Sweden's Henrik Stenson rolled over two-time European Tour winner Thongchai Jaidee, 5 & 4, to clinch the Royal Trophy for the Europeans.
S.K. Ho took down Kenneth Ferrie, 2 and 1, while Keiichiro Fukabori pounded Thomas Bjorn, 4 and 3, to create the final margin.
'I am really very happy with the final score today,' said European team captain Seve Ballesteros. 'It has been a great two days of competition and the European Team played fantastic. The Asian team also showed a tremendous game. On this occasion we had a little more luck, but at the end of the day golf is the real champion.'
Howell led the first match four of the first six holes, before Imano claimed the seventh and eighth to grab his first lead at 1-up. Howell came right back to win the next two holes to reclaim the lead, that would be his least.
Imano won the 11th and 14th, but Howell won 12 and 16 to keep the match all square. Imano closed the match in style with wins on the final two holes.
McGinley never led over the opening 13 holes of his match with Zhang. Zhang was 2-up through seven, but the Irishman eventually squared the match on 13. McGinley also won the 14th to grab his first lead and ended the match with a win on the 17th.
'I am obviously pleased I won my game, but the most important thing was the team won,' said McGinley. 'It was a tough game today and Zhang played great, but fortunately I played well enough to beat him.'
McDowell dominated Randhawa throughout. McDowell won each of the first two holes and eventually moved his lead to 3-up through 6. Randhawa wouldn't go down without a fight as he won the 11th to even the match. McDowell then won 13, 14 and 16 to claim the match.
Faldo won the first hole against Atwal, but that would be his only lead. Atwal won the second and third to go 1-up. He stretched his lead to 2-up twice, but Faldo cut it both times. Atwal won the 11th and 12th to take a 3-up lead before winning the match on the 16th.
Wiratchant led from the second to the ninth, but Woosnam claimed Nos. 10 and 11 to take his only lead of their match. Wiratchant won the next two holes to reclaim a 1-up lead and he closed the match with a win on the 17th.
Stenson, playing local favorite Jaidee in the last match, cruised to a big win. After leading much of the opening 10 holes, Stenson won the 11th, 12th and 13th holes to move 5-up. The match was over one hole later as they halved the 14th.
Fukabori and Bjorn were the penultimate match and Fukabori never trailed. Bjorn won the eighth to square the match, but it was all Fukabori from there. He won the ninth, 10th and 11th to move 3-up. Fukabori won the 14th and the match was over one hole later.
Ho and Ferrie had a good battle. Ho grabbed a 2-up lead when he won the No. 5. Ferrie won three straight from the sixth to turn the deficit into a 1-up lead. Ho took 11 to even the match, then moved back in front with wins on 15 and 16. They halved 17 to give Ho the match.
'We won the singles today, but the European team took the trophy,' said Asian captain Masahiro Kuramoto. 'Europe is a great team and so was the Asian team. I was happy to see the boys fight back after yesterday. For a moment, it looked possible that we could upset Europe and our players grew in confidence. We proved today that we could compete.'
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