Asia can edge Trophy spoils

  • By: David John (Twitter: @SLifeDaveJohn
  • Last Updated: December 13 2012, 8:56 GMT

David John previews this week's Royal Trophy in Brunei as Europe takes on Asia at the Empire Hotel & Country Club.

Joe Ozaki and Asia can make up for last year's defeat
Joe Ozaki and Asia can make up for last year's defeat

Friday sees the sixth renewal of the Royal Trophy at as Asia take on Europe at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Empire Hotel & Country Club in Brunei on the fringes of the South China Sea.

The venue is a fraction over 7,000 yards and Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts has spoken already this week about how the birdies will be flowing - he revealed he has not had to hit more than a seven iron for his second shot into any of the par fours with two of the three par fives reachable in two blows for good measure.

The format is eight men per team with four foursomes on Friday, four fourballs on Saturday and eight singles to round things off on Sunday with the dynamics of the two line-ups quite interesting.

Jose Maria Olazabal - fresh from masterminding a Ryder Cup win in September - captains Europe and will also take part in the action.

Getting the marquee players to commit to an event of this nature at the end of long season is pretty tough but the Spaniard has done well with plenty of familiar names going into battle.

With that being the case, it is little surprise to see bookmakers making them a best price of 4/7 to come out on top - they have also won four of the previous five renewals, a 10-6 defeat back in 2009 preventing the clean sweep.

Opposing number is Naomichi 'Joe' Ozaki but he and vice-captain Liang Wen-chong will not be battling it out on the fairways.

Their selection policy is based on youth as six out of the eight team members are under 30 with YE Yang and Jeev Milkha Singh relied upon to provide the experience angle.

It is certainly an attacking policy in the belief that the young, hungry stars will unite behind a fearless approach - Ozaki observed this week that he could "see the anticipation rising" within his team.

So there is little doubt that Europe's side have the more established stars but do they represent a bet at the prices?

Probably not so I am inclined to take them on to small stakes with the hosts at 6/4.

Olazabal himself is expecting a close battle and I have no doubt Ozaki will have learned plenty - albeit the hard way - from last year's final-day shambles in the singles.

Asia somehow managed to blow a 6-2 lead from the first two days losing that session by an incredible 7-1.

Ozaki was inconsolable afterwards and took full responsibility but has been given a chance to set the record straight - a chance which I feel he can grasp with both hands.

His players may not be household names but KT Kim and Bae Sang-moon are previous winners of the Japan Order of Merit while Yoshinori Fujimoto, Wu Ashun, Ryo Ishikawa and Kiradech Aphibarnrat are all tournament winners in 2012.

Yang and Singh should blend in nicely with their global experience and I get the distinct impression that the exuberance of youth will give Asia every chance of not being intimidated by the visitors.

Ozaki clearly has a good feel in terms of his partnerships for the doubles portion of the event and a little bit of fortune with the singles draw could be all that it takes for the home side to claim the victory they are so keen to achieve.

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