Ozaki turns to Asia’s youth for Royal Trophy
BANGKOK, Thailand – Asian golf’s top young stars are being assembled to take on Europe in the fifth edition of the Royal Trophy, with Naomichi “Joe” Ozaki announcing five additions to his team this week.
Rising Korean stars Kyung-tae Kim and Seung-yul Noh, Japanese youngsters Yuta Ikeda and Shunsuke Sonoda and China’s Wen-chong Liang have confirmed their places on the Asian team that will take on Colin Montgomerie’s Europeans at Hua Hin’s Black Mountain Golf Club from Jan. 7-9.
They will be joined by Ryo Ishikawa, the Japan Tour’s money-list leader.
“I think I am very fortunate that there are so many players. . . to choose from in Asia,” said Ozaki, who is captaining for the fourth time. “The six players I have named so far have all won in 2010, accumulating 12 titles between them, and they are all capable of making a lot of birdies. That is essential in match play.”
In 2009, Europe won after Henrik Stenson holed a seven-foot putt for par on the 18th green in the final match against Thongchai Jaidee.
“Many people have said that such a tense finale was great for the future of the competition, and provided wonderful drama for the huge worldwide television audience,” Ozaki said. “I’m sure they are right. But when you are on the losing side, those concerns offer very little consolation.”
Ikeda, who has won three times this year on the Japan Tour, said: “I am ready to fight very hard to revenge the agonizing defeat our Asian continent suffered last time. I have played a lot of team golf during my amateur career, and I am sure we will play our hearts out and earn the privilege of tossing captain Ozaki up in the air at the conclusion of the matches.”
Montgomerie, who captained the European Ryder Cup team to victory at Celtic Manor, said he will also play on his eight-man team, which he has yet to name.
The biennial event is played in Ryder Cup style, with four foursomes matches on Friday, four four-ball matches on Saturday and eight singles on Sunday.