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Europe hangs tough to win inaugural Royal Trophy

Kyodo

Asia battled back in the singles matches Sunday but the lead was insurmountable as Europe pulled away to win 9-7 at the inaugural Royal Trophy in Bangkok.

Seve Ballesteros’s men needed just two and half points to clinch the victory after taking a 6-2 lead in the foursomes and fourball matches on the opening day Saturday, but were given a fright by a determined Asian team who bounced back 5-3 in the matchplay event at Amata Spring Country Club.

Japan’s Yasuharu Imano edged England’s David Howell 2 up while Keiichiro Fukabori downed Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn 4 and 3 and South Korean S.K. Ho, who competes on the Japanese men’s tour, beat Kenneth Ferrie 2 and 1, to highlight three of the victories.

But Europe closed out to ensure victory with singles wins by Ireland’s Graeme McDowell and Paul McGinley and Henrik Stenson of Sweden over their respective opponents.

Asian team captain Masahiro Kuramoto said he was impressed with his men’s spirited comeback.

“I really thought we had a shot at winning at one point and each and every guy really played his best until the end,” Kuramoto said. “The European team is really tough. I think it’s wonderful that we could come together under one sport for Asia.”

The Royal Trophy is sanctioned by the Asian Tour, Japan Golf Tour Organization and the European Tour.

The winning team pocketed $1 million and the impressive Royal Trophy donated by Thailand’s monarch, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The runners-up earned $500,000. The tournament is being held for the first five years in Thailand, with the sixth edition to be staged in Europe.