BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — Seve Ballesteros says he plans to return next year to his role as captain of Europe’s Royal Trophy team.
A statement from the Spanish golfing great was read at a news conference Wednesday, two days before this year’s competition begins between teams from Europe and Asia.
“My heart and thoughts are with you,” Ballesteros said in his message. “I will keep fighting to win my most difficult match. I hope to be with all of you next year.
Ballesteros was diagnosed with a brain tumor last year that required several operations. He was released from a hospital Dec. 9 and returned home to northern Spain, where he began chemotherapy treatment.
Jose Maria Olazabal replaces Ballesteros as captain.
“Special thanks to Oli for taking over the captaincy,” Ballesteros said. “He is not only a great champion but is also one of my best friends.”
Olazabal said Ballesteros, who led Europe to the Royal Trophy title in 2006 and 2007, was hopeful the team would win the event at Amata Spring Country Club in Thailand’s Chonburi province.
“The last instruction that I received from Seve was to win. Period,” Olazabal said. “Seve showed how good he was as a player and then as a captain. I will try to follow him. These eight guys are great players and I’m positive that we will win which is our goal.”
The European team features Ireland’s Paul McGinley, England’s Oliver Wilson and Nick Dougherty, Sweden’s Niclas Fasth and Johan Edfors, Scotland’s Paul Lawrie, Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal and Denmark’s Soren Hansen.
The Asian is Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaeng, South Korea’s Charlie Wi and S.K. Ho, China’s Liang Wenchong and Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa, Hideto Tanihara and Toru Taniguchi.