Europe dominates singles to win Royal Trophy


HUA HIN, Thailand (AP) — Europe dominated Sunday’s singles matches to produce an unlikely comeback over Asia and defend its Royal Trophy title with a 9-7 victory at the Black Mountain Golf Club.

Asia needed 2½ points from the eight singles matches to clinch the win but the Europeans held them to just one, winning six of the eight matchups with the other two all square.

Asia had led 6-2 going into the final day after sweeping the fourball matches Saturday.

Peter Hanson of Sweden gave Europe a good start, fighting back from two down to win nine of the next 10 holes, beating Liang Wen-chong 7 and 6.

“It’s been a good day for me,” Hanson said. “Liang’s early birdies really woke me up to play my best. It was always tough to play the first match. And I needed to win my point get some blue up here early to help the rest of the team.”

Rhys Davies of Wales, Fredrik Andersson Hed of Sweden and European playing captain Colin Montgomerie also picked up wins and the series was tied at 6½ after Henrik Stenson of Sweden birdied the last hole to halve his match against Noh Seung-yul of South Korea.

Italian 17-year-old Matteo Manassero then put Europe in the lead for the first time by beating Shunsuke Sonoda of Japan 1 up, but it still looked like Jeev Milkha Singh of India and Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand might rescue the situation for Asia.

Singh was all square with Pablo Martin of Spain after 17 holes, while Thongchai was one up over Johan Edfors of Sweden going to the 18th.

But a superb approach shot from Martin landed only 18 inches from the pin on the 18th green, and after Singh missed his birdie putt, the Spaniard made an easy tap-in to clinch the victory for Europe. Edfors then won the last hole to halve his match with Thongchai.

“With the score we had by Saturday, I … didn’t expect to lose,” Asia captain Joe Ozaki said. “But I realized the difficulty of match play. It could change very fast.”

Davies was making his debut for Europe and said he can’t wait for another opportunity.

“I love team golf,” he said. “I played quite a bit as an amateur, (but) this is my first experience as a professional and I thoroughly enjoyed it, just really pushing hard for our team.”