All set for epic battle

By SHIV DAS / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS

The third and final edition of the DRB-Hicom Bhd EurAsia Cup to be held in Malaysia kicks off in earnest tomorrow in what will be a three-day battle of wits, wills and skills between two teams, comprising some of the best professional golfers in Asia and Europe for continental bragging rights.

And the man largely responsible for bringing the biennial event to Malaysia, Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid, chairman of Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) — the host partner in the European and Asian Tours-sanctioned event — was at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club (GGCC) in Shah Alam yesterday to see that all was well and ready.

He was taken around by EurAsia Cup director Charlie Tingey and accompanied by Datuk Ng Tieh Chuan, a member of the organising committee and MD of Golf Malaysia.

Ahmad Sarji visited the principal hospitality marquees that overlook the “battle” ground. It was clear that the golf course was in pristine condition.

“Physically, on the ground, it looks like it’s all systems go,” said Ahmad Sarji.

Except perhaps, for the vagaries of weather, with rain forecast over the tournament days.

But even that did not seem to concern David Garland, European Tour’s tournament director who sat down with Ahmad Sarji for lunch.

Garland said even if play was interrupted, it could and would be extended to ensure the tournament was completed.

Ahmad Sarji later shared the roles played by PGM to ensure the event’s success with The Malaysian Reserve.

Firstly, he said, PGM had played a key role in securing the required funds from the government and DRB-Hicom.

Secondly, PGM secured the necessary greenlight from the country’s Sports Commission since financing for international tournaments was subject to its approval.

But what was really important for him, was showcasing the tournament.

“The publicity generated by this event is huge,” he said.

“By the time this championship closes, the three-event total would be viewed by one billion people on television.

“So, when the event ends on Sunday, Malaysia would have contributed substantially to the success of the event.”

The tournament was organised and set up almost identically as drastic changes would impact the brand.

Ahmad Sarji said he was also happy to offer help to subsequent organisers of the event who might want to draw on the Malaysian experience.

The venue for the next Ryder Cupstyle event (between the US and Europe) in 2020 has yet to be decided.

The first two editions of the tournament were held in 2014 and 2016 at the same venue.

It was a surprising draw in the first, but a comfortable win for Europe in the second.

The third has all the signs of being an epic contest, with both sides assembling the strongest teams yet, led by Thomas Bjorn, Team Europe, and Arjun Atwal, Team Asia.

Ahmad Sarji also spoke of his desire to have an Asian Tour legacy event to keep the EurAsia Cup momentum going.

He was in discussions with the the Asian Tour, as the last time the Tour had such an event was the Selangor Masters in 2008.