Sport Golf

Sunday 23 April 2017

Martin clinches Royal honours for Europe as Asia capitulate

Martin Petty

Europe produced a stunning fightback to clinch a 9-7 victory over Asia in the Royal Trophy yesterday, overturning a seemingly unassailable lead to win the match-play contest for a fourth time.

Pablo Martin holed the winning putt in a thrilling competition that went to the wire, giving Europe an unlikely victory over an Asian team that needed just two-and-a-half of the eight available points to win.

Europe dominated from the start with polished performances by all eight players as the Asians caved under pressure and failed to win a single match, picking up two halves in a miserable day at the Black Mountain course.

The Europeans reduced the deficit point by point in a contest that could have gone either way and came down to two final pairings that were all-square.

Martin played the pivotal role in the victory when his superb chip from 25 yards landed a foot away from the pin. Jeev Milkha Singh failed to make the necessary 12-foot putt, leaving Martin with a tap-in to finish one up and lift the trophy.

"When you see the strength of the Asian team this year, possibly the strongest ever assembled...for my team not to lose a game today was remarkable," Europe player-captain Colin Montgomerie said.

Remarkable

"It was one of the most remarkable days I have ever been involved in. I've been part of a lot, but today beat the lot of them. To not lose a point in eight matches against a team of that quality was fantastic."

Peter Hanson led the European charge with a crushing 7&6 win over a haphazard Liang Wenchong in the opening match, clinching six birdies from the 12 holes played to finish seven strokes up and put the holders in the driving seat.

Europe looked a totally different team from the one trounced in Saturday's fourballs and were leading in seven of the eight pairings after an hour of play in Hua Hin.

Late call-up Fredrik Andersson Hed was the next winner for Europe and his eagle on the 13th gave him the vital break against Yuta Ikeda. He won 2&1 and closed the gap to two points.

South Korean youngster Noh Seung-yul was dealt a painful blow after an impressive round when he ended up in the bunker on the 18th and allowed Henrik Stenson, who holed Europe's winner last year, to halve their match.

Newcomer Rhys Davies gained another crucial point after finishing four strokes ahead of an error-prone Ryo Ishikawa, who bogeyed five times, including the first two holes, in a dour round for the young Japanese who had shone in the first two days.

Montgomerie held his lead after three holes to beat Kim Kyung Tae 3&1, then Italian teenager Matteo Mannassero put Europe into contention by finishing one up against Shunsuke Sonoda, leaving Martin to clinch the decisive point.

Irish Independent

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