Asian Captain Ozaki loads his Royal Trophy team with rising young stars

seung-yul noh
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At the age of 19, Noh Seung-yul leads the Asian Tour's Order of Merit.
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Associated Press

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Asia opted for youth for the Royal Trophy golf competition against Europe, selecting four young players among five named on Tuesday.

South Koreans Kim Kyung-tae, 24, and Noh Seung-yul, 19, were joined by Japanese players Yuta Ikeda, 24, Shusuke Sonoda, 21, and the earlier-named Ryo Ishikawa, 19.

2011 ROYAL TROPHY

The Royal Trophy is a five-year-old Ryder Cup-style event matching eight-man teams from Europe and Asia.

Liang Wen-chong of China, at age 32, was the most experienced player to be picked Tuesday.

Europe, the defending champion, will be captained by Colin Montgomerie in the event to be played from Jan. 7-9 at the Black Mountain Golf Club in the Thailand seaside town of Hua Hin.

Each team will have eight players, giving Asia the opportunity to choose one or two Thai players to attract home fans. Europe has not yet announced its team.

Asian Captain Joe Ozaki, who will lead the team for the fourth time, said it was form and talent rather than age that were the key criteria.

“The age of the player was not the critical factor in my selection,” Ozaki said. “I was just interested in nominating proven winners who play the brand of fearless, aggressive golf the Royal Trophy’s 18-hole match-play format demands.”

Ishikawa, Sonoda, Ikeda and Kim are four of the top six players on the Japan Golf Tour’s Order of Merit, Noh leads the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, while Liang is a two-time winner on the OneAsia Tour this season.

“Captain Ozaki has clearly gone for players who are in great form, and who will not back off in the heat of battle,” Liang said. “That seems a very shrewd and positive policy.”