Thai stars vow to erase bitter memories of Royal Trophy defeat


Asia’s star performers in their shock Royal Trophy defeat, Thai golfers Thongchai Jaidee and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, admit that loss was even harder to take after they both claimed a maximum three points.  But both have pledged to return to Dragon Lake Golf Club in Guangzhou, China later this year to help erase the bitter memories of the way the Asian Team stumbled from a near–invincible position at 7–3 ahead to lose 8½ – 7½.

Thongchai has been one of the Royal Trophy’s most fervent supporters, establishing a new record at Dragon Lake by making his sixth appearance from a possible seven since the competition was launched in his homeland in 2006.  The fact that the perpetual sixteen-kilogram solid-silver Royal Trophy itself was graciously donated by His Majesty the King of Thailand, and the first five editions were played in that nation, adds to the poignancy of the event for all Thai golfers.

Thongchai Jaidee (center) and Kiradech Aphibarnrat (left) compete at the seventh edition of the Royal Trophy in Guangzhou, China.Thongchai Jaidee (center) and Kiradech Aphibarnrat (left) compete at the seventh edition of the Royal Trophy in Guangzhou, China.

So it is no wonder Thongchai could scarcely believe he had finished on the losing side for the fifth time – ironically, Asia completed a memorable play–off victory when he missed the event for the only time in 2012 – and he is determined to improve that strike rate.

He said: “I still cannot believe it all changed so dramatically for us, although the European team was a very strong one and their players have more experience of team match-play than we do.  I think we are still learning the strong mentality you need when it gets close in this format, but we will get better and better at it with more experience.

Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee tees-off at the Dragon Lake Golf Club during the recent Royal Trophy tournament.Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee tees-off at the Dragon Lake Golf Club during the recent Royal Trophy tournament.

“I would be happy to come back again next year – and to help the team do better.  Even though we lost this was a lovely team, and I always want to do my best for them and for our Asian continent.

“It is hard to accept defeat, but it is good that the Royal Trophy is so close every year now, because it was not like that when we first started.  Europe was much stronger than us, but not anymore.

“I want to thank the sponsors and the organisers – and both teams – for making this such a great event.”

His passion for the Royal Trophy was mirrored by Kiradech, who banished the memories of his disappointing performance in 2012 with an outstanding display this time.  He too found it hard to believe their efforts had not provided the bedrock for another Asian triumph.

Kiradech commented: “I didn’t think the European team could recover after falling so far behind.  But I want to say we had a very good team, we were all in it together, and our Captain Y.E. Yang could not have done any more to prepare us.

“All eight of us players did our best, and we thought it would be good enough.  But the Europeans showed why they are so good, and so successful in this team format.  I have played in two very close matches – the play–off win last year and this defeat – and that shows there is nothing to choose between the teams.

“I would love to come back again for the 2014 Royal Trophy, and I am confident with this extra experience, and a determination not to feel similar feelings to the one we have now, it will be our turn to succeed again.”

The eighth edition of the Royal Trophy will be held on 19-21 December 2014 at the 54-hole Dragon Lake Golf Club set amidst a stunning mountain range and the pristine Dragon Lake in the outskirts of Guangzhou, China’s third largest city.

The Royal Trophy is the official and established competition between the continents of Europe and Asia.  The championship is sanctioned by the China Golf Association, the governmental authority for the sport in the People’s Republic of China, and the Japan Golf Tour, Asia’s premier, richest and most traditional professional golf tour.

The Royal Trophy originated from the vision of the late legendary five-time Major winner Seve Ballesteros who intended to gift the Asian continent with the same golf growth impetus experienced by the Europeans in the 1980s and 1990s as a result of the Ryder Cup.  The Royal Trophy Players’ Committee, hand-picked by the late Ballesteros, is comprised of six-time Major winner Sir Nick Faldo, former Masters champion Ian Woosnam OBE, current European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, highly-successful Royal Trophy and Ryder Cup captain José Maria Olazábal, Japanese golfing legend Isao Aoki, five-time Asian Team Captain at the Royal Trophy Naomichi ‘Joe’ Ozaki and India’s all-time top golfer Jeev Milkha Singh.

“The support for the Royal Trophy by the greatest names in golf and by the most important institutions in the sport is clear,” stated Lincoln Venancio, Royal Trophy Co-Managing Director.

“It is also very clear that the Royal Trophy is well on its way to fulfill the prediction made by Seve, that “… the Royal Trophy will grow into one of the world’s most important sporting competitions,”” concluded Lincoln Venancio.