BANGKOK, Nov 6 (Reuters) Japan's Naomichi ''Joe'' Ozaki will return as Asia's captain for next year's Royal Trophy match play event against Europe, organisers said today.
The 51-year-old Ozaki, who won 35 titles during his 30-year playing career, will again be the non-playing captain and will start selecting his eight-man team in the coming weeks.
''This is an exciting opportunity but also a great responsibility,'' Ozaki said in a statement.
''Representing your country is already a huge responsibility.
Representing your continent is truly special.'' Five-times major winner Seve Ballesteros of Spain will captain the European team for the second successive year.
Ryder Cup holders Europe won the inaugural edition of the Royal Trophy in 2006 and thrashed Asia 12-1/2 to 3-1/2 last January to retain the title.
Ozaki said Asian golfers had improved since this year's trouncing and would put up more of a fight this time.
''Last time we found the Europeans too strong but we have learned a lot,'' he said. ''Asian golf continues to improve very quickly and our players continue to gain greater stature.'' The contest, which features singles, foursomes and fourballs, will be played at the Amata Springs Country Club in Chonburi, east of Bangkok, from January. 11-13.
REUTERS TB RK2018