Monty leads troops to team glory
World No7 Henrik Stenson holed the winning putt as Europe regained the Royal Trophy with a dramatic 8 1/2 – 7 1/2 victory against Asia yesterday.
The vastly experienced Swede, who played in the past two Ryder Cups, clawed back from three holes down after 10 against Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee to earn a half point and the win for Europe with a gutsy seven-foot par putt at the final hole.
It was a repeat of Europe's triumph in the maiden event in 2006 when Stenson beat Thongchai in the anchor match for overall victory. Europe also won in 2007, but were stunned 10-6 by their Asian opponents last year.
"We really had a game on this week and we had to dig deep, especially me in the final match with Thongchai," said Stenson. "I am not playing great at the moment, but I told the boys I could find that extra bit near the end if I needed it and I did that."
Player-captain Colin Montgomerie, who will skipper Europe in October's Ryder Cup, said the victory was a great fillip for European golf.
"It was an incredible competition and great to see Seve Ballesteros' vision come to fruition," he said of the ailing Spaniard who created the event. "Seve phoned me and congratulated me when I was on the 18th green.
"This is a great start for European golf in a very important year and all credit to my team for fighting so hard for the victory."
Montgomerie made a huge contribution to the overall win with a battling display against the in-form Liang Wen-chong of China. He drew on all his experience to match Liang's 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th to claim a critical half point for Europe.
Thongchai, a three-time Asian No1 with a record 12 victories, would have taken the encounter into a play-off if he had beaten Stenson and soon said sorry to captain Naomichi Ozaki afterwards.
"I apologise to the captain – I let the team down on the last hole, but overall I gave it all I have got," he said.
Koumei Oda put the first point on the board for Asia with a crushing victory against Sweden's Alexander Noren, before Peter Hanson took the scalp of the highly regarded Ryo Ishikawa to register Europe's first point on a tense final day.
India's Jeev Milkha Singh handed the advantage back to Asia, while Soren Kjeldsen ensured the match went to the last game.
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