Europe romps to Royal Trophy victory

Irish aces Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley played a vital role as Europe crushed Asia by nine points to retain the Royal Trophy.

Led by skipper Seve Ballesteros, the eight-man European side ran out 12.5 to 3.5 winners after the final day singles in Bangkok.

Europe took the singles series 6-2 with Dubliner McGinley coming back from two down after two to beat home boy Thaworn Wiratchant 2 and 1 at Amata Spring Golf Club.

McGinley had cost Europe a half point in Friday's foursomes but showed his fighting spirit over the weekend.

In Saturday's fourballs, he helped partner Anthony Wall come back from three down after nine to beat Wiratchant and Tetsuji Hiratsuka 1 up.

Then he dug deep in his singles clash with Wirichant, reeling off four birdies in a row from the ninth to go three up before closing out the match at the 17th.

Skipper Ballesteros was not surprised by what turned out to be an easy European victory.

He said: "That was fantastic golf from the European side. These are Ryder Cup champions. They beat the Americans very badly, so this was not a surprise.

"The Asian team played very well, but we played much better.

"I think a couple of things made the difference. The Asian team did not have quite the experience that the Europeans had and our side played unbelievable golf."

Needing just one and half points from the eight singles to retain the trophy, Europe eventually won five, halved two and lost just one of the individual clashes.

Lee Westwood put the first points on the board with a 4 and 3 win over Toru Taniguchi before McGinley effectively guaranteed that Europe retained the trophy when he went dormie three up.

In the end it was Ryder Cup hero Clarke who actually put the half-point required on the scoreboard thanks to a battling half with Prom Meesawat.

Having led by three holes after three, the Ulsterman faltered to go two down with three to play.

But he rallied to win the 16th and 17th in birdie-par figures before the last was halved in birdies.

Clarke said: "Of course part of the result was because the Asians didn't have a great week but we showed how strong we are.

"We all played well. Match play is a little easier than stroke play at this time of the year and we are happy with what we have achieved."

Swede Johan Edfors then won his clash with SK Ho 3 and 2 as Wall defeated Hiratsuka 4 and 2.

Robert Karlsson beat Jeev Milkha Singh 3 and 2 with the only bright spot for the Asians came in the final match when veteran Thai golfer Thongchai Jaidee defeated Niclas Fasth 2 and 1.

European Order of Merit leader YE Yang halved with Henrik Stenson and Asian skipper Joe Ozaki blamed his inexperience in the role for his side's heavy defeat.

Ozaki said: "I expected that the game would be much closer but this is my first experience of being a captain at such an event and I want to take full responsibility for this loss.

"I know I'll think 'I should have done this, I should have that,' but maybe next time I will be able to apply those lessons."

The Royal Trophy, The Amata Spring Country Club, Bangkok, Thailand:
(European names first):
Lee Westwood (Eng) bt Toru Taniguchi (Jpn) 4&3
Darren Clarke (NIrl) halved with Prom Meesawat (Tha)
Johan Edfors (Swe) bt SK Ho (Kor) 3&2
Paul McGinley (Irl) bt Thaworn Wiratchant (Tha) 2&1
Anthony Wall (Eng) bt Tetsuji Hiratsuka (Jpn) 4&2
Robert Karlsson (Swe) bt Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind) 3&2
Henrik Stenson (Swe) halved with YE Yang (Kor)
Niclas Fasth (Swe) lost to Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 2&1
Final Score: Europe 12.5 Asia 3.5