Ryder Cup stars sign up for Royal Trophy

Europe's defence of January's Royal Trophy in Bangkok has been strengthened after two more Ryder Cup winners agreed to join skipper Seve Ballesteros' team.

European captain Severiano Ballesteros has enjoyed further success in persuading Europe's Ryder Cup stars to play in January's Royal Trophy after Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley yesterday committed to the event. Ballesteros had already announced that their Ryder Cup colleagues Robert Karlsson and Henrik Stenson would be members of his team to face Asia at the Amata Spring Country Club in Bangkok, and he will be delighted to have persuaded the two Irishmen to join them.

The inaugural match between the two continents last year resulted in a tight 9-7 victory for Europe and Ballesteros, who still has four selections to make, will be hopeful of adding more big names as Europe attempt to retain the trophy. Japanese skipper Joe Ozaki is yet to name his squad.

"I think everyone could see how much I enjoyed the Ryder Cup experience," said Clarke (pictured).

"Now I am looking forward to playing in my first Royal Trophy in the new year. I feel very comfortable in the team environment and it would be good to hook up again with a few of the Ryder Cup team. We have lots to look back on."

Clarke's close friend McGinley is looking forward to sampling the charms of the Royal Trophy for the second time in succession, after he was part of Ballesteros' successful 2005 side.

"There is clearly a growing appetite for team golf and the Royal Trophy seems to be capturing the imagination quickly," he said.

"Fortunately our team so far has plenty of guys with experience of feeling the different sort of pressure it applies. The players love playing in the team events and they are tremendous fun and fiercely competitive."

In a seperate development, sources in the USA have claimed that Paul Azinger will be unveiled as the 2008 US Ryder Cup captain at some stage on Monday. The reports are unofficial, but golf-monthly.co.uk will bring you the full story if an announcement is made.

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