Colin Montgomerie, captain of the European team for this year’s Ryder Cup match with the United States at The Celtic Manor resort, Wales saw some at first-hand some of the potential candidates for his squad as he lead his Royal Trophy team to victory over Asia at Thailand’s Amata Spring Country Club.
In a see-saw tussle which saw Asia and then Europe take the overall lead during the foursomes and fourballs matches on Friday and Saturday, it fell to Sweden’s Henrik Stenson to collect the half-point needed by the European team to secure the victory and regain the trophy by sinking a six-foot putt for par to half his match with Thongchai Jaidee.
Montgomerie, who was acting as captain in the absence of Seve Ballesteros as the Spanish legend continues his recovery from a brain tumour, played in the tournament himself as he ran the rule over some potential picks for his team to face the United States.
And the Scot showed he was no back number by collecting a half against Chinese number one Liang-Wen-chong.
Koumei Oda claimed an unexpected point for the hosts with a dominant 5&3 win over Alexander Noren before Indian star, Jeev Milkha Singh defeated Sweden’s Robert Karlsson 2&1.
However, the Europeans stepped up a gear and victories for Peter Hanson, Pablo Martin and Soren Kjeldsen meant the trophy would be settled by the final pairing, and it was Stenson who prevailed to regain the trophy they had relinquished 10-6 the previous year.
Stenson’s victory was all the more remarkable, especially as the Swede found himself three down after nine holes before bravely battling back to level the match with three holes to play. However, Jaidee birdied the 17th to edge ahead once again, and saw a par putt on the last shave the lip of the hole before Stenson held his nerve to make his own par putt and capture the half-point needed.
Afterwards, Montgomerie said: “It was an honour to captain the team. We came here with a strong team and it was very, very close.
“All credit to my team for fighting. They all contributed at least a point out there this week and we did great.
“It is a very important year for European golf and this has been a good start for us and we hope to build on this throughout the year.”