Brunei: Jeev Milkha Singh rolled in two massive putts for birdies on the 16th and 17th holes to score a full point over veteran Miguel Angel Jimenez and help Asia clinch the Royal Trophy only for the second time in six editions. Jeev's effort tied the match at 8-8 and, in the first sudden death play-off, the Korean duo of K T Kim and Y E Yang defeated Ryder Cup hero Nicolas Colsaerts and Francesco Molinari to grab the Royal Trophy for Asia after the end of three exciting days at The Empire Hotel & Country Club.
Kim showed no nerves as he drained his 15 footer, and then Colsaerts' putt, which was half that distance, agonisingly slid past the hole giving Asia an amazing win. They had trailed 0.5-3.5 after the first day and then reduced the margin to one point on the second day. They won the singles 4.5 to 3.5 to tie match. Jeev, who celebrated his 41st birthday on Saturday, had three birdies in a row from 15th to 17th. Jimenez was 1-up after 15 but Jeev won the 16th to equalise and then won the 17th to go ahead.
He held on the lead on 18th to get the point. "It really was a great win for Asian golf. The past three days were really exciting and it feels nice to win the Trophy for the team," said Jeev. The win sparked off scenes of celebrations with 'Gangnam' style dance around the 18th green. Individually, Olazabal halved his match with Kiradech Aphinbarnrat as did KT Kim against Gonzalez Fernandez Castano and then Wu Ashun halved his match against Edorado Molinari.
The wins for Asia came from Jeev over Jimenez by 1-up, Yoshinori Fujimoto beat Marcel Siem 1-up and Y E Yang 2-up over Francesco Molinari. For Europe, Colaserts beat Bae Sung-moon 1-up and Henrik Stenson beat Ryo Ishikawa 1-up. It was hard to envisage an Asian win after they were routed 3 in the Foursomes matches on day one. But they pulled back to within a point of a European team containing six players with Ryder Cup experience by claiming the Fourball session 3-1.
It was still a tall order for Asia against European opponents who have become accustomed to running away with the Singles. Europe, always strong on Singles, overturned a 6-2 deficit by winning the Singles 7-1 at the 2011 Royal Trophy, and their final day comeback overturned a 10-6 American lead at the Ryder Cup in September, which is now one of the great stories of golf.
Asian captain Noamichi Ozaki could not hide his delight at the outcome, saying, "I am so proud of all my players, but especially K T Kim. It was a great Royal Trophy and a great way to finish. My congratulations to the European Team on a wonderful performance and to my players for a great victory." Jos Maria Olazbal admitted his team was disappointed, but said they could not have tried harder for him.
"You saw how close this match was by the fact six of the seven Singles matches came down to the final hole. Then in the play-off, Nicolas hit two wonderful shots and was actually closer to the hole than Kim. The margins between victory and defeat are tiny, and I have told my players I am very proud of them and they should leave with their head held high," he said.
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