GUANGZHOU: Former Ryder Cup-winning captain Jose Maria Olazabal masterminded another miraculous European fightback as his team celebrated a remarkable Royal Trophy triumph in China.
Seemingly down and out, Europe stunned their Asian rivals with a startling late surge, reminiscent of the continent’s Ryder Cup success against America at Medinah last year and at the 2011 Royal Trophy.
In a gripping climax at Guangzhou’s Dragon Lake Golf Club, the honour of securing the winning point went to Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, who held off home favourite Liang Wenchong on the final green in the final match to clinch an 8+-7+ victory — the fifth time in seven editions of the Royal Trophy that Europe has won.
Spaniard Olazabal, twice previously a losing Royal Trophy captain, said: “Our players did something extraordinary today. We knew it was going to be difficult. I thank all eight of these fantastic guys. I’m proud of the way all of the team played.”
For his part, Asia captain Y.E. Yang was clearly stunned by the defeat.
“I congratulate Europe for an outstanding comeback. It was a great tournament but unfortunately a shocking loss for us,” he said.
“I never expected this because we were so far in front. The loss is a huge blow and a big surprise. Hopefully we’ll learn from the mistakes we made and return stronger next year.”
Trailing 5-3 overnight, Europe appeared doomed to lose when the Thai duo of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Thongchai Jaidee maintained their 100 per cent winning records, claiming the first two of eight singles contests to extend the home team’s advantage to 7-3.
But with their backs firmly against the wall, the Europeans then rose to the challenge while the Asians wilted.
Europe collected 5+ of the final six points on offer with Marc Warren, David Howell, Thorbjorn Olesen, Bernd Wiesberger and Nicolas Colsaerts all winning their matches and Alvaro Quiros halving with Kim Kyung-Tae.
Scotsman Warren began the comeback, holding his nerve to two-putt the final hole for par and secure a one-up victory against Ryo Ishikawa, who held his head in his hands after duffing his chip from the back of the green.