Prayad wants to win Royal Trophy for Thai king

January 8th, 2009 - 1:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangkok, Jan 8 (IANS) Debutant Prayad Marksaeng wants Asia to win the Royal Trophy of golf against Europe as a gift for the king of Thailand. The local star will take his place alongside seven other talented players from across the region in the clash of the continents at Amata Spring Country Club which starts Friday.

After a highly successful season where he won three times in Japan and finished 12th on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, the smooth-swinging Prayad plans to launch his new year on a winning note by playing a major role in the Royal Trophy.

“We’ll try to win the Royal Trophy for the King of Thailand,” said Prayad. “I’m proud to be a part of the Asian Team for the first time and I will be playing hard to bring honour to the King. We have a very strong Asian side this week as most players have won titles last season. I believe we have a good chance.”

King Bhumibol Adulyadej donated the Royal Trophy, which was inaugurated in 2006 by golf legend Steve Ballesteros, who captained Europe to victories over Asia in the first two editions.

Jose Maria Olazabal is skippering the European side this week as Ballesteros recovers from multiple surgeries due to a brain tumour.

Asia, led by non-playing captain Naomichi ‘Joe’ Ozaki, will also feature Prayad’s countryman Thongchai Jaidee, a 10-time winner on the Asian Tour, South Korea’s Charlie Wi and S.K. Ho, Chinese star Liang Wen-chong and Japanese trio Toru Taniguchi, Hideto Tanihara and teenage sensation Ryo Ishikawa.

Prayad is expected to be paired with close friend Thongchai for the opening foursomes and Saturday’s fourball session. They combined effectively at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in China last November and finished seventh.

Prayad is also hoping that Ozaki will send them out in the first match in hope of delivering Asia’s first point of the competition, which has been won twice previously by a dominant Europe team.

“I would like to be the first match out and try to win the first point for Asia. Europe is strong but we’ll give them a good match. I will speak to our captain to see if he can send us out first although he will have his own strategy,” said Prayad, a six-time winner on the Asian Tour.

After being in two losing sides, Thongchai is determined to gain some measure of revenge against Europe which is represented by English duo Oliver Wilson and Nick Dougherty, Sweden’s Johan Edfors and Niclas Fasth, Scotland’s Paul Lawrie, Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal, Irishman Paul McGinley and Denmark’s Soren Hansen.

“This is the third time I’m competing in the Royal Trophy and I have learned from my past experiences,” said Thongchai.

Like Prayad, Liang is looking forward to his debut in the Royal Trophy. “I’m excited to play for Asia,” said the 30-year-old. “It’s a great opportunity for Asia to wrest the Royal Trophy from Europe and I’m hoping to play my part.”

Ozaki, captaining the Asian team for the second time, is determined to deliver Asia’s first triumph in the series and has called for his stars to show “guts and fighting spirit” to prevail.

“I was disappointed with our result in 2007 and I want revenge this week,” said Ozaki, one of Japan’s most decorated players with over 30 tournament victories.

Four foursomes matches will be played Friday, followed by four fourball matches Saturday and eight singles matches Sunday.

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