Former world number one and five-time Major winner, Seve Ballesteros, is hoping to make a successful return to regular tournament golf in 2007, after seemingly putting his injury nightmares behind him, but first on his list of priorities this year is Friday’s Royal Trophy between Europe and Asia in Bangkok ? a three-day Ryder Cup-style match play event between the two continents.

The legendary Ryder Cup talisman from the 1980s and 1990s will be able to call upon five of 2006’s winning team from The K Club, as he leads Europe into battle as non-playing captain at the plush Amata Springs Country Club. He has revealed his relief at being able to call upon such a strong team, with the Asian team looking markedly stronger than at last year’s inaugural staging, which Europe won 9-7. Asian captain Naomichi “Joe” Ozaki can boast several improved players in his squad, including Volvo Masters winner Jeev Milkha Singh and Thongchai Jaidee.

“Their team looks even stronger than last year, but happily mine is strong too,” said Ballesteros.

“Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley and Lee Westwood are all hardened Ryder Cup players, while three of my four Swedish players ? Henrik Stenson, Robert Karlsson and Niclas Fasth ? all have experience of winning the Ryder Cup. The fourth Swedish player, Johan Edfors, won three times on the European Tour last season and Anthony Wall is another exciting rookie.”

McGinley, who holed the winning putt at the 2002 Ryder Cup and was a member of last year’s winning Royal Trophy team, is expecting a tough match due to the quality of the opposition and the determination and drive of his captain.

“There is a great deal of pride at stake and a lot of intensity in these matches,” he said.

“You would expect that from any team captained by Seve. This is not going to be a gentle workout for us. I’m glad we have put together such a strong team as we will have to be at our best to beat Asia this time around.”