Howell triumphs in Royal Trophy
SWINDON’S David Howell inspired Europe to a Royal Trophy win over Asia following a dramatic final day in China.
Europe were 5-3 down at the start of the three-day competition yesterday and when that advantage lengthened to 7-3, it appeared that the writing was on the wall.
However, a stunning turnaround ensued and Europe won 8.5-7.5 as Asia crumbled at the Dragon Lake Golf Club in Guangzhou.
Nicolas Colsaerts was the man on the spot to sink the winning putt - prompting scenes of jubilation on the green - but Howell played a crucial role in the remarkable fightback.
The Broome Manor pro profited in his singles match as HS Kim picked up three bogeys on the way home and two birdies allowed Howell to level.
And the 38-year-old then took the match with a brilliant last-hole up-and-down from the greenside bunker.
In fact, Howell was unbeaten throughout the event, winning and halving foursomes matches with Marc Warren on the opening two days.
Colsaerts’ winning putt allowed Jose Maria Olazabal to mastermind a second unlikely fightback following 2012’s Miracle of Medinah.
It was another fine achievement for the Spaniard, who had gone toe-to-toe with opposite number YE Yang in the build-up, with both predicting how tough the other was going to have it.
Yang appeared to be vindicated when his men led at the end of day two and then stretched further out in front as Kiradech Aphibarnrat beat Paul Lawrie (three and two) and Stephen Gallacher was toppled four and two by Thongchai Jaidee.
Asia needed a point and a half with six games out on the course at that stage, and even when Warren took the two putts he needed to beat Ryo Ishikawa, it appeared nothing more than a consolation for Europe.
But the win gave Europe some momentum and Howell gave his continent’s hopes added weight as he fought back to beat Kim.
The rush stopped partly as KT Kim halved with Alvaro Quiros, but then rising star Thorbjorn Olesen saw off Wu Asham with two holes to spare.
Bernd Wiesberger and Hiroyuki Fujita reached the turn all square but the former then ramped up the power and four birdies over the first six holes heading home earned him a three and two win.
Europe's middle order had put them in with a chance of victory and going into the last match between Liang Wen-chong and Colsaerts, everyone knew the trophy would go to the winner.
Colsaerts edged ahead first and then twice recovered as Liang nipped in front, but the Belgian went out on his own again with three holes left to play.
Liang then had a 15-footer to level on 16 but missed, before he messed up an approach on the 17th. He needed a 30-footer to take the match to the last hole but three-putted and Colsaerts dropped in from two feet for the win.
The European Tour returns to action in January with the Volvo Golf Champions in South Africa.
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