The Royal Trophy will go ahead in January despite the European captain Seve Ballesteros undergoing three operations last month to treat a brain tumour. The tournament pitting Europe against Asia in a Ryder Cup-style format will be joint-sanctioned by the Asian, Japan and European Tours and held at Thailand's Amata Spring Country Club, just outside Bangkok, from Jan 9 to 11. Ballesteros, who left the intensive care unit of the hospital where he is being treated in Spain last week, founded the event and skippered the European team in 2006 and 2007.
The event was cancelled this year out of respect for the Thai king's sister, who died in January. Ballesteros was set to resume the captaincy in 2009 but Keith Waters, director of international policy for the European Tour, made no mention of whether he would take part. "We look forward to the return of The Royal Trophy following last year's postponement and I'm sure it will be as keenly contested, and played in the same spirit, as the first two," Mr Waters said.
"Our thanks go to Seve who was instrumental in launching The Royal Trophy in 2006. Everyone connected with the event will be thinking of him during this year's contest." The tournament features eight-man teams from Asia and Europe, led by non-playing captains, competing in 16 matches. Europe won the first two editions. "The Royal Trophy will give us the opportunity to showcase Asia's growing strength against Europe," said the Asian Tour executive chairman Kyi Hla Han.
"The standard of golf in Asia is on the rise and we are confident of putting up a strong challenge for The Royal Trophy next year." Joe Ozaki, of Japan, captains Asia and has already announced some of his players, who include countryman Hideto Tanihara; Liang Wen-chong, of China; Charlie Wi, of South Korea; and the Thai golfer Prayad Marksaeng. No announcements have been made on the European side.