Europe defends Royal Trophy at Black Mountains Golf Club

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Fredrik Andersson and Europe Team

Fredrik Andersson and Europe Team

Europe dominated Sunday’s singles matches to produce an unlikely comeback over Asia and defend its Royal Trophy title with a 9-7 victory at the Black Mountain Golf Club.

Asia needed 2 1/2 points from the eight closing singles matches to clinch the win but the Europeans held them to just one, winning six of the eight matchups with the other two all square.

The Royal Trophy is a five-year-old Ryder Cup-style event matching eight-man teams from Europe and Asia.

Asia had led 6-2 going into the final day after sweeping the fourball matches Saturday.

Peter Hanson of Sweden gave Europe a good start, fighting back from 2 down to win nine of the next 10 holes, beating Liang Wen-chong, 7 and 6.

“It’s been a good day for me,” Hanson said. “Liang’s early birdies really woke me up to play my best. It was always tough to play the first match. And I needed to win my point get some blue up here early to help the rest of the team.”

Rhys Davies of Wales, Fredrik Andersson Hed of Sweden and European playing captain Colin Montgomerie also picked up wins and the series was tied at 6 1/2 after Henrik Stenson of Sweden birdied the last hole to halve his match against Noh Seung-yul of South Korea.

Italian 17-year-old Matteo Manassero then put Europe in the lead for the first time by beating Shunsuke Sonoda of Japan 1 up, but it still looked like Jeev Milkha Singh of India and Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand might rescue the situation for Asia.

Singh was all square with Pablo Martin of Spain after 17 holes, while Thongchai was one up over Johan Edfors of Sweden going to the 18th.

But a superb approach shot from Martin landed only 18 inches from the pin on the 18th green, and after Singh missed his birdie putt, the Spaniard made an easy tap-in to clinch the victory for Europe. Edfors then won the last hole to halve his match with Thongchai.

“With the score we had by Saturday, I … didn’t expect to lose,” Asia Captain Joe Ozaki said. “But I realized the difficulty of match play. It could change very fast.”

Davies was making his debut for Europe and said he can’t wait for another opportunity.

“I love team golf,” he said. “I played quite a bit as an amateur, (but) this is my first experience as a professional and I thoroughly enjoyed it, just really pushing hard for our team.”

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Villegas wins skins game over Woods in TIger’s mother’s home country

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VillegasWinsSkinsGame

Villegas Wins Skins Game

Camilo Villegas won a four-man skins game tournament, which featured Tiger Woods, in honour of His Majesty the King yesterday.

The Colombian claimed the trophy after winning five skins for 3.3 million baht in the World Golf Salutes King Bhumibol at Amata Spring Country Club.

England’s Paul Casey took nine skins for 2.8 million baht, Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee 2.7 million baht and American Woods 200,000 baht.

They donated the prize money to charities.

The event was part of celebrations marking the King’s 84th birthday and his 60th year on the throne.

“It is our honour to be here and play for the King,” said the 28-year-old Colombian who visited the country for the first time.

“The fans are unbelievable and respectful. I enjoyed the game. Even I am here for just one day, I am very delighted.” he said.

On the day he celebrated his 41st birthday, Thongchai won only one hole _ the 17th _ after Tiger missed a makeable putt.

The spotlight was undoubtedly on Tiger, who returned to his mother Kultida’s home country for the first time since 2000.

No longer the world’s number one, Tiger was probably the busiest golfer on the planet in the past two days.

Right after finishing his round at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai on Sunday, he flew to Bangkok on a private jet and left for Australia soon after his duty at Amata Spring.

Woods and Thongchai went to Siriraj hospital yesterday morning to sign a get-well book for His Majesty.

The 34-year-old wrote the Thai words “Song Phra Charoen” (Long Live the King) in the book.

He also enquired after His Majesty’s condition.

Thongchai and Woods later paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva at Government House.

They donated 2.2 million baht from the ticket sale to the premier to help flood victims.

About 10,000 people flocked to the course as the four gave the fans an entertaining display which ended with a chip-off at the final hole won by Villegas.

“I feel like I’m coming home,” Woods said at the post-match press conference even before a journalist finished his question.

Woods, who has been to Thailand several times, said the Thais’ love for golf had not changed and that he saw a bright future for golf in Asia.

Suwat Lipatapalop, chairman of the organising committee, said the tournament was a huge success in promoting the country to the world with the event shown in more than 450 million households around the world.

“It’s a great success after we had prepared it for four months,” he said.

It was reported that about 70 million baht was spent to stage the event.

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Asian Number One wins unprecedented 13th Asian Tour title

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ThongchaiJaidee

Thongchai Jaidee

Three-time Asian Number One Thongchai Jaidee won an unprecedented 13th Asian Tour title at the Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open.

The Thai star shot a seven under par 65 in the closing round at Phokeethra Country Club to win by four shots with a 21 under par total of 267.

Japan’s Kenichi Kuboya, who held the lead for three rounds, had to settle for second place after signing off with a 70

“I played really solid all week and I’ve no complains. This is my second win at the Johnnie Walker Cambodia Open and I’m really proud of myself,” said Jaidee.

Playing together in the last group, Jaidee, who started his round in third place, got off strongly with two birdies in his opening two holes to grab a share of the lead with Kuboya.

The Japanese responded with birdies on the second and fourth holes to regain the outright lead after six holes.

However it was at the par four seventh where the lead changed hands again as Kuboya dropped his first shot of the week there while Jaidee birdied his to move atop the leaderboard.

Kuboya regained the share of the lead briefly after another birdie on the 11th hole but Jaidee responded with another birdie of his own at the par four 12th to move ahead at 18 under with six holes to play.

Jaidee stormed home convincingly with three birdies in his last three holes to secure his first win this season and a record 13th career title on the Asian Tour.

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Challenge Tour Member Tony Carolan played through the pain barrier to set opening pace at the King’s Cup on the Asian Tour

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Carolan

Tony Carolan plays with injury

Challenge Tour Member Tony Carolan played through the pain barrier of an injured elbow to set the opening round pace at the King’s Cup on the Asian Tour.

The Australian, who has been struggling with tendinitis in his right elbow this season, posted a flawless six under par round of 66 to take a one stroke lead over Korea’s Mo Joong-kyung at US$300,000, which is being played at the Singha Park Khon Kaen Golf Club, in Thailand.

Carolan, who started from the 10th tee, turned in 31 but struggled on his homeward nine as the pain in his elbow began to increase.

The 42 year old said: “I’ve felt pain all day and was struggling a bit on my back nine, so I just tried not to overdo it. I’ve had this injury all year and had a lot of treatment, and finally the elbow is now recovered to about 85%. Earlier in the year it was only about 25% healed, so we’re definitely moving in the right direction!”

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Mickelson still hoping to claim golf`s No.1 ranking but is 4 off pace with 4-under 67 at Singapore Open

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Phil Mickelson at Singapore Open

Phil Mickelson, hoping to claim golf’s No. 1 ranking, opened with a 4-under 67 on Thursday and is four strokes off the pace after the rain-soaked first round at the Singapore Open.

South Korea’s Kim Bi-o and Chris Wood of England each shot 63 for a share of the lead.

The 204-man field was divided in half and played on different courses, but 108 players were unable to complete their rounds after thunderstorms delayed play for over four hours.

Kim and Wood both played the Sanjong course at Sentosa Golf Club, which was playing easier than the Serapong course.

Wood, last year’s rookie of the year on the European Tour, took advantage of the easy scoring conditions on the Sanjong course with eight birdies.

“The course I played today was the one you are looking to get your score in because there are a lot of good chances out there,” Wood said. “The other course I’m playing tomorrow has a bit more meat to it so if I could shoot another one of those down there, I’ll be happy.”

Spain’s Ignacio Garrido was also at 8 under but completed only 11 holes.

Japan’s Shigeki Maruyama was a stroke behind the leaders with a 64, and Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg was also at 7 under after playing 15 holes.

Gareth Maybin of Northern Ireland shot 65, while 10 players were tied at 66, including Asia’s first major champion, Y.E. Yang of South Korea.

Mickelson matched Malaysia’s Danny Chia and three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit champion Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand.

The $6 million event is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.

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Tiger looking forward to return to his mothers home country and skins game in November

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Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods says he’s looking forward to giving something back to Thailand when he makes a quick visit to his mother’s home country for the first time in 10 years to play a one-day skins tournament next month.

The Nov. 8 event is part of celebrations marking King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 60th year on the Thai throne.

“The last time I played in Thailand was in 2000. I am really looking forward to coming back and hopefully win it all!” Woods said in a statement released Thursday by organizers.

The 14-time major winner has not won a tournament this year after stepping away from the game for nearly four months in the wake of an infidelity scandal that destroyed his image and led to the breakup of his marriage.

“The Thai people never fail to impress me with their warm and genuine hospitality. This is indeed a good opportunity to give something back to them,” Woods said.

Paul Casey of England, Camilo Villegas of Colombia and Thailand’s top player, Thongchai Jaidee, will also compete for total prize money of $300,000. All players have agreed to donate their winnings to charity projects overseen by Thailand’s king, organizers said.

Woods’ stay in Bangkok will last about 24 hours. He will fly into the Thai capital the night before the tournament after competing in the HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

He will make an early morning visit to pay respects to the ailing 82-year-old King Bhumibol, who has been lodged at a Bangkok hospital for more than a year, by signing a get well book at the hospital along with Thongchai, organizers said.

Woods will then meet Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva before proceeding to the Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi, a seaside province southeast of Bangkok, for the event.

All golfers will wear pink golf shirts, a sign of respect for the king that symbolizes wishes for good health.

Woods is scheduled to leave Thailand later that night for Australia to compete in the Nov. 11-14 Australian Masters in Melbourne.

Woods first played in Thailand in 1997, when he won the Asian Honda Classic. He received a $480,000 appearance fee and was greeted by large crowds. He also received a royal decoration and was feted by the then prime minister.

An American whose mother is Thai, Woods last played in Thailand in 2000, winning the Johnnie Walker Classic. He also won the inaugural event in 1998.

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Asian players put their talents up against the Tour’s Best

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Thai veteran Thongchai Jaidee believes the inaugural CIMB Asia Pacific Classic will be a good stepping stone for Asian stars to broaden their horizons.

The decorated 40-year-old, holder of an unprecedented three Order of Merit titles, headlines a strong Asian Tour lineup that includes countrymen Thaworn Wiratchant, Pariya Junhasavasdikul and Kiradech Aphibarnrat competing in the $6 million event that begins Thursday at the Mines Resort and Golf Club.

While Jaidee has enjoyed success abroad, he knows there is room for improvement — especially when Asian Tour regulars compete against the likes of multiple major champions like Ernie Els and Retief Goosen of South Africa. In addition, eight players in the field have won 10 times on the PGA TOUR this year, including two-time champs Els and Bill Haas.

“It is very important to have big events in Asia,” Jaidee said. “… This is a good learning curve for me because we get to observe and learn from the PGA TOUR players on their preparation and their game.”

This season, Jaidee enjoyed a strong start to the year, tying for seventh and ninth, respectively, at the Malaysian Open and Ballantine’s Championship. He also reached the quarterfinals of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship where he lost to the eventual winner Ian Poulter.

Jaidee’s game hit a quiet patch but after notching a top-10 in Europe two weeks ago, the former paratrooper feels he is close to his best form.

“I’m back to Asia and I prefer the weather here because it feels like home,” Jaidee said. “I have played in Malaysia on many occasions and I’m feeling excited. There are only 40 players this week without any cut and that makes it easier for a player to come out and win it.”

Jaidee is also a fan of the par-71 Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed course, which was built on a former tin mine. “The course set up is fantastic,” he said. “It is in great shape. This is probably the fastest greens I have played on in Malaysia.”

Another top contender is Korea’s Noh Seung-yul, the current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader. The talented 19-year-old returns to Malaysia with positive vibes after winning the Malaysian Open in March and finishing second at the recent Iskandar Johor Open.

“You can see the trend right? The competition is stiffer than the previous two events. If I finish third, I’ll be quite happy,” Noh said.

Junhasavasdikul, who broke through with his maiden Asian Tour title at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters earlier this month, also relishes the opportunity to compete against the more established players for the $1 million first prize.

“This is a big week for me to gain more experience,” the 26-year-old said. “There are a lot of big names like Ernie, Retief Goosen, Robert Allenby and many others. These guys are my role models and I look up to them.

“I’m trying not to think about the prize money. I have yet to see how the big boys do it but hopefully I can catch up with them.”

Like many,Junhasavasdikul has found the Mines Resort course challenging with greens running 11 or 12 on the Stimpmeter.

“The course is pretty tough,” he said. “t is nothing like what I have played on before and the greens are running really fast. Honestly, I did not expect that in Malaysia. … The course is kind of narrow and it will be a challenge.”

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