Thai trio join Asian team for Royal Trophy | other | Hindustan Times
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Thai trio join Asian team for Royal Trophy

other Updated: Dec 18, 2007 19:28 IST

Thai trio Thongchai Jaidee, Prayad Marksaeng and Chapchai Nirat will join the Asia team to face Ryder Cup holders Europe in the Royal Trophy early next year, organisers said on Tuesday.

Thongchai returns to the team for the third successive year while Prayad and Chapchai, the Asian Tour order of merit runner up, will make their debuts in the matchplay event from Jan. 11-13 in Chon Buri, east of Bangkok.

Thongchai, an eight-times winner on the Asian Tour and first on the circuit to net over $2 million in prize money, said the contest was the ideal opportunity to show how much Asian golf had improved.

"Our Asian team is shaping up to the strongest one we have fielded so far," he said in a statement.

"We all recognise that a victory over Europe, who have dominated their Ryder Cup battles with America in recent years, would show the rest of the world that Asian golf is a force to be reckoned with."

Europe, captained by five-times major winner Seve Ballesteros, won the inaugural Royal Trophy in 2006 by two points but returned a year later with a far stronger team to thrash Asia 12-1/2 to 3-1/2.

"The first two Royal Trophy competitions were memorable events but Europe were strong favourites because they have so much knowledge of team golf," added Thongchai, who used to sell discarded golf balls to the rich businessmen who played at a course near his home.

"Most of the individual matches were very close, and I think we have all learned a lot about the best strategy for matchplay events."

MAJOR BOOST

Chapchai, who has just completed the most successful year of his career, said he was delighted to be named on the team and coming close to topping the Asian Tour money list had given him a major boost.

"It gives me even more confidence as I look to build on what I have achieved this year," he said. "After going so close it is something I will definitely target in the future."

Prayad's inclusion on Naomichi "Joe" Ozaki's eight-man team comes off the back of the sixth title of his career at the Volvo Masters of Asia earlier this month, when he came from fifth place on the final day to take the title in a thrilling finish.

The Thai trio will join Japanese pair Toru Taniguchi and Hideto Tanihara and India's Jeev Milkha Singh, the 2007 Asian golfer of the year.

Ballesteros on Monday named Sweden's Robert Karlsson and Frenchman Gregory Havret on his team to join Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke.

The contest features singles, foursomes and fourballs and will be played at the Amata Springs Country Club, where it will be held until 2010.