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Naomichi 'Joe' Ozaki, a member of Asia's greatest golfing dynasty, will lead Asia's campaign to wrest the Royal Trophy from European hands for the second time.

    The 'Japanese golfing great', one of Asia's most successful players and brother of two more top professionals in Masashi and Tateo - otherwise known as Jumbo and Jet - will captain the Asian Team to take on the Seve Ballesteros-led Europeans.

    The Ozaki name is synonymous with Asian golf due to the immense impact the Ozaki brothers have made in the sport including topping the Japanese Order of Merit over ten times and winning well over one hundred tournament titles.

     Joe Ozaki, the youngest of the three brothers, is one of Asia's most valuable golfing assets. He has finished at the top of the Japanese Order of Merit two times and has won 35 career titles. He is third on the all-time list of Japan's career prize money winners having earned over USD 15 million.

    The fifty one-year-old is coming off a very successful year in the Champions Tour in the United States where he recorded 10 'Top 10' finishes and shot an average 70.35 per round. The highly-talented golfer still plays at such a high level that he could arguably still make the Asian Team as a player.  

    He will be attempting, for the second time, to lead Asia into its first ever win against the Europeans in the prestigious competition. In the Royal Trophy 2007, Ozaki led a star-studded Asian Team with great determination but was met with the challenge of a very confident European side - hot off a Ryder Cup win against the Americans in Ireland. The greater experience of the Europeans prevailed and Ozaki was clearly physically and emotionally exhausted on the final day of the competition. He continuously pushed and motivated his players throughout the final day of matches demonstrating a tremendous attitude and a fantastic level of courage and leadership.

    "I am truly honored to have been selected to captain the Asian Team in the Royal Trophy for the second time. I am very much looking forward to the competition. This is a very exciting opportunity but also a great responsibility," said Ozaki.

     "I have been under great pressure as a golfer in tournaments all around the world. But this is very different. As Asian Team Captain in the previous edition of the Royal Trophy, I learned a lot. It is very different leading a team, making the player selections, representing a fantastic group of players from many different countries and leading a team which is representative of our Continent to playing in a tournament yourself. The weight on one's shoulder is very heavy but the reward of leading Asia into its first ever win would be just tremendous," added the Japanese golfing giant.

    Ozaki, who first learned how to play golf from his brother Jumbo, added: "We will be representing all of Asia, which includes so many major nations and a massive population of over three billion people. That adds up to a lot of support - and a lot of expectation!"

    "Representing your country is already a huge responsibility. Representing your Continent is truly special and I am looking forward to leading the Asian Team once again."

    "Last time we found the Europeans too strong but we have learned a lot. I have also learned a lot as a Captain. Asian golf continues to improve very quickly and our players continue to gain greater stature in the world of golf. We will do our utmost to win and secure stewardship over the Royal Trophy," added a determined Ozaki.

    Ozaki and his Asian Team will be facing another very powerful European Team led by the very same Seve Ballesteros, a charismatic figure who has carved his name deep in golfing folklore and possibly the greatest team golf captain in history.

    "I will have to face Seve as the European Team Captain which is not easy. Seve is a golfing legend and has great experience as a player and captain. But our Asian Team will be fully prepared for the challenge. I would like very much to win against a great European Team led by Seve - it would be a great moment for Asian sports history."

    Ballesteros is fully aware that the competitive instinct burns as brightly as ever for his rival Captain.

   The legendary Spaniard said: "It will be a wonderful experience to face Joe Ozaki and his Asian Team once again. He is a very determined man and I know that we will need to play great golf to beat them. All of the players in the European and Asian Teams will be great champions. Joe will be a truly worthy adversary - his record shows that he is a winner. It will be a great sporting battle and we will be ready for it." 

    The third edition of the Royal Trophy will be held at the highly exclusive Amata Spring Country Club in Bangkok, Thailand on January 11-13, 2008. The two continental teams will each field eight players and a non-playing captain who will compete in foursomes, four-ball and singles matches. Europe has prevailed in the two inaugural Royal Trophy matches and will be attempting to retain stewardship over the 16-kilogram solid-silver Trophy which was graciously donated by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. 


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