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Asia bounces Europe to claim Royal Trophy

ASIA clinched its first Royal Trophy matchplay tournament against Europe yesterday, with the winners saying it is evidence of Asia's growing importance in world golf.

Europe won four of the eight singles matches and squared another, but could not make up for Asia's dominance in foursomes and fourball on the opening two days, giving Asia an overall 10-6 win in Chonburi, Thailand.

It was a convincing victory for Asia after losses in 2006 and 2007.

"For Asia to beat Europe, we can show something to the golfing world as we are always number three behind America and Europe," South Korea's S.K. Ho said.

"Now that we've beaten Europe, it's time for us to move up."

The Europe players partly blamed their defeat on lack of match practice following the offseason.

"That's what we have to be prepared to face when we come up against Asia rusty," Denmark's Soren Hansen said.

"We have to be ready and prepared, that's they way it is now."

England's Nick Dougherty said captain Jose Maria Olazabal ?? replacing his ill close friend Seve Ballesteros ?? should not be apportioned any blame for the defeat.

"You can imagine what the atmosphere was like for us. After the first day we were sitting around saying 'what the hell happened.' Then on the second day it was a double 'what the hell happened.' But even through all of that he was brilliant."

Europe, trailing 6-1/2 to 1-1/2 entering the singles, needed a strong start and Scotland's Paul Lawrie delivered an early win when he beat China's Liang Wenchong 3 and 2.

However Thailand's Prayad Marksaeng beat Spain's Pablo Larrazabal 5 and 4 as they argued over an out-of-bounds call on the 11th.

Japan's Toru Taniguchi then thrashed Sweden's Niclas Fasth 7 and 6 to quickly clinch the trophy for Asia.

"I'm very happy because we lost the first two times," Taniguchi said. "I'm happy for all the players, the feel of this team has been great."

Asia captain Naomichi "Joe" Ozaki said the victory was a "dream come true" after his team was thrashed 12 1/2 to 3 1/2 in the previous edition.

"I really wanted this win and my team realized how I felt," said an elated Ozaki. "They knew how I wanted them to play. I knew they would do well. This win means so much."


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