Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Golf: Olazabal Takes a Gamble; No Changes as Europe Slide

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Golf: Olazabal Takes a Gamble; No Changes as Europe Slide

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT McGEEHAN

EUROPEAN captain Jose Maria Olazabal has kept faith in his pairings for today's critical fourballs despite falling 3-1 behind Asia after the opening foursomes at The Royal Trophy, writes MATT McGEEHAN.

Europe held the early advantage in all four matches yesterday, but Paul Lawrie and Soren Hansen were the only partnership to emerge with a point. Joe Ozaki's team prevailed in blustery conditions to lead by two going into the second day of the Ryder Cup-style matchplay event at Amata Spring Country Club near Bangkok.

Spaniard Olazabal - deputising for his close friend and compatriot Seve Ballesteros, who is recovering from surgery on a brain tumour - has resisted the temptation to tinker.

The skipper has left Paul McGinley and Pablo Larrazabal, Nick Dougherty and Oliver Wilson and Niclas Fasth and Johan Edfors as partners for today's four-balls as Europe seek to get their bid for a third successive title back on track.

"I believe in the boys," said Olazabal. "They didn't play up to their standards this time but they're facing a tough challenge, a really tough challenge.

"There is no reason to change if I feel they are strong pairings - it's as simple as that. If the players don't feel comfortable, they are free to say so, but so far everybody is happy."

Ballesteros led Europe to victory in the previous two tournaments, in 2006 and 2007, and Olazabal is seeking to extend the streak.

Before the tournament, Olazabal stressed the Asian team were strong and winning would be a difficult proposition - and he is even more certain now of the difficulty of the task that faces his side. "We knew before it was going to be tough but obviously, with this start, things are going to be quite difficult," he added.

"We're going to have to play really, really well in the next couple of days in order to win this event. …

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