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Asia picks young team for Royal Trophy vs Europe

BANGKOK, Thailand – Asia opted for youth for the Royal Trophy golf competition against Europe, selecting four young players among five named on Tuesday.

South Korean pair Kim Kyung-tae, 24, and Noh Seung-yul, 19, were joined by Japanese trio Yuta Ikeda, 24, Shusuke Sonoda, 21, and the earlier-named Ryo Ishikawa, 19.

Liang Wen-chong of China, at age 32, was the most experienced player to be picked Tuesday.

Europe, the defending champion, will be captained by Colin Montgomerie in the event to be played from Jan. 7-9 at the Black Mountain Golf Club in the Thailand seaside town of Hua Hin.

Each team will have eight players, giving Asia the opportunity to choose one or two Thai players to attract home fans.

Asian captain Joe Ozaki, who will lead the team for the fourth time, said it was form and talent rather than age that were the key criteria.

“The age of the player was not the critical factor in my selection,” Ozaki said. “I was just interested in nominating proven winners who play the brand of fearless, aggressive golf the Royal Trophy’s 18-hole matchplay format demands.”

Ishikawa, Sonoda, Ikeda and Kim are four of the top six players on the Japan Golf Tour’s Order of Merit, Noh leads the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, while Liang is a two-time winner on the OneAsia Tour this season.

“Captain Ozaki has clearly gone for players who are in great form, and who will not back off in the heat of battle,” Liang said. “That seems a very shrewd and positive policy.”