David Howell produced the perfect summing up to an incredible final day at the Royal Trophy, by announcing: “Something magical just happened”.

It would be difficult to imagine even the most celebrated magicians conjuring up a greater escape from the jaws of defeat than the one Howell and his European team–mates. Trailing 7–3 on the final day at Dragon Lake Golf Club in Guangzhou, and leading in only two of the remaining six matches, the European Team somehow managed to win five of those clashes, and claimed a half from the other one to emerge triumphant.

No–one played a more prominent role than Howell. He was three down to in–form Korean star H.S. Kim with four holes play – and took all four holes to secure an incredible one up success. That proved the inspiration for Europe’s stunning 8 ½ v 7 ½ victory, the latest astonishing chapter in a competition where dramatic finishes are becoming almost commonplace.

The 2010 contest was settled on the final green in the final match, the 2011 match saw Europe overturn a 6-2 deficit by not losing any of the eight Singles, and Asia won last year in a sudden death play–off after the Team finished deadlocked on eight points apiece.

And Howell had no hesitation in agreeing with European Captain Jose Maria Olazabal’s assessment that this was another “extraordinary” climax to a fascinating clash with the cream of Asia’s golfing talent. The English golfer was a member of the European teams who recorded the biggest victories in Ryder Cup history – romping home by nine point margins in 2004 and 2006 – and said those experiences had not really prepared him for this.

He explained: “I suppose every great fightback has to have a turning point, and I guess my match was the one this time.

“There’s no doubt we were in big trouble at 7–3 down, and as my match entered the back nine I looked across at Ollie and he was practically pleading with me to make something good happen.

“My opponent was five under through 14 before he finally hit his first poor shot, and I was able to make a couple of birdies I needed to put him under a bit of pressure.

“I was determined to take it to the last hole, because I looked at the scoreboards and I could see that even if I could get a half point it would prove vital. I certainly didn’t want to go down without a fight, and to actually win the last four holes and get the win was a real thrill for me.

“My heart was pumping so fast over those closing holes that I don’t know how I was able to hit the shots I managed to pull off.


posted at 23 Dec 2013 00:06:09



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