By RAHIMI YUNUS / Pic By AFIF ABD HALIM
The Asian team is holding their heads high as they face the more experienced European golfers for the bragging rights in the third instalment of the EurAsia Cup.
The instalment of the Ryder Cup-style tournament begins today until Sunday and will feature 24 matches, with Day 1 showcasing six four-ball matches, followed by six foursome matches and 12 singles matches on the final day.
Team Asia has much to prove on the greens at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club as they pit their skills against Team Europe.
The first Indian golfer to win on the US PGA Tour at the 2010 Wyndham Championship, Arjun Atwal is leading Team Asia for the first time in the EurAsia Cup. Two local golfers Gavin Kyle Green and Nicholas Fung are members of Team Asia.
Pressure for the local golfers are rising as they are playing on home ground.
“A lot more pressure to play on home ground, but it is going to be fun,” said Green. “We will give our best shot and see what happens. Europe has a great team and we will give it all,” Green, who is currently Asia’s No 1 golfer after winning the Taiwan Masters last year, said at the EurAsia Cup 2018 opening
ceremony in Shah Alam yesterday. Meanwhile, Team Europe is led by senior Danish golfer Thomas Bjørn who came through the Challenge Tour by winning four titles, and topped the rankings in 1995.
He is leading the charge comprising experienced players including 11 European Tour victory titles holder Henrik Stenson, twice Challenge Tour winner Bernd Wiesberger and 2006 European Tour “Golfer of the Year” Paul Casey.
The biennial golf tournament saw Team Asia losing to Team Europe in the 2016 edition, with 51⁄2 to 181⁄2 defeat respectively. The European team was simply “too good” at that time.
The event’s first edition in 2014 witnessed the Asian team fought back at the final moment and settled for a 10-10 draw, which dubbed then as the “Glenmarie Miracle”.
Intensity in this year’s competition is expected to be high as Team Asia seeks to avenge their loss and to give stiff challenge to their competitors.
“It is going to be a very close competition. We have good players from Team Asia, some of them are new and therefore are unknown to the Europeans.
“There’s a lot of strategies in fixing the pairings according to strengths and weaknesses. Team Europe does not know quite a number of players from Team Asia, and we are hoping that we can give a surprise to them,” tournament presenting partner DRB-Hicom Bhd COO for services, education and defence Datuk Mohamed Razeek Md Hussain told The Malaysian Reserve. Mohamed Razeek said the EurAsia Cup’s stature is rising.
“We brought a very strong tournament to the country, promoting golf and tourism.
People from Japan, Korea and many other parts of the world come to Malaysia to witness the match. Malaysia is geographically strategic and has good golf courses,” he said.
The opening ceremony was witnessed by Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar. Below is the Day 1 fourball pairings for both teams presented yesterday:
Match 1: Tommy Fleetwood (UK), Paul Casey (UK) versus Byeong Hun An (South Korea), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Thailand)
Match 2: Thomas Pieters (Belgium), Matt Fitzpatrick (UK) versus Yuta Ikeda (Japan), Gavin Green (Malaysia)
Match 3: Alex Noren (Sweden), Paul Dunne (Ireland) versus Hideto Tanihara (Japan), Pachara Khongwatmai (Thailand)
Match 4: Henrik Stenson (Sweden), Alex Levy (France) versus Sunghoon Kang (South Korea), Poom Saksansin (Thailand)
Match 5: Bernd Wiesberger (Austria), Rafa Cabrera-Bello (Spain) versus Nicholas Fung (Malaysia), Li Hao-Tong (China)
Match 6: Ross Fisher (UK), Tyrrell Hatton (UK) versus Anirban Lahiri (India), S S P Chawrasia (India).