Golf

Published: Monday March 17, 2014 MYT 4:43:00 PM
Updated: Monday March 17, 2014 MYT 4:48:37 PM

Captain Thongchai rallies team ahead of EurAsia challenge

PETALING JAYA: Thongchai Jaidee believes Team Asia will only win the inaugural EurAsia Cup next week if his players fight for one another and for continental pride.

The Thai star will lead a 10-man side against the Miguel Angel Jimenez-led Team Europe in the Ryder Cup-style showdown at Glenmarie Golf and Country Club from March 27-29.

“It is important for my players to know that we are competing as a team, one for all and all for one.

“We are representing Team Asia and there is no greater honour. Now that we are in the team, we are all fighting for our pride and honour and it is important for Asia to show the golfing world that we belong on the world stage by producing our best golf and win the EurAsia Cup,” said Thongchai.

Thongchai, the only man to win three Asian Tour Order of Merit titles, is excited ahead of the historic showdown and knows his role as leader of the team is crucial, especially in determining his pairings for the fourball and foursomes matches.

The 44-year-old will decide on the combinations when he meets up with the other nine members of his team at Glenmarie next week.

An option will be to pair by nationalities as Thongchai’s countrymen Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Prayad Marksaeng are also in the squad while Gaganjeet Bhullar and Anirban Lahiri of India and Japanese Hideto Tanihara and Koumei Oda provide the tactical possibilities as well.

“I have spoken to some of my players about their preferences and thoughts about the potential pairings. It does make sense to pair our players by nationalities but it won’t be the sole criteria. I have some ideas in my mind now but I will not reveal them. Once the players come together next Monday we will have team meetings to finalise the pairings for the fourball and foursomes matches. I believe I have many options as we’ve got a bunch of great players,” said Thongchai.

“I have played with both Prayad and Kiradech in the World Cup of Golf, so teaming up with either of them will be easy. Both of them are great golfers, with Prayad probably having a few more years of experience ahead of Kiradech. I will be comfortable playing with either player but my decision will only be made during event week.”

The world No. 46 admits that on paper Team Europe look very strong, particularly with some of their player in great form coming into the EurAsia Cup.

Pablo Larrazabal and Stephen Gallacher have won on the European Tour this year while Victor Dubuisson and Jamie Donaldson finished second in recent World Golf Championships events in the United States. Ryder Cup hero Graeme McDowell has also enjoyed two top-10s in the WGCs.

“Team Europe have a very strong side with a mix of experience and youth. Players like Miguel-Angel Jimenez, Thomas Bjorn and Graeme McDowell will be key players for them due to their Ryder Cup experience. 

“However, we would be foolish not to be mindful of their other players like Stephen Gallacher, Pablo Larrazabal and Victor Dubuisson who are all in top form after winning this season and producing some great performances. However, every golfer out there knows in match play that anything can happen on the golf course and I’m looking for my players to rise to the occasion.”

Thongchai finished a highly credible ninth in the Race to Dubai last season and is happy with his current form which includes a tied sixth outing at the WGC-Cadillac Championship last month.

“I’m satisfied with my game at the moment and how I’ve progressed at the start of 2014. I’m swinging the club nicely but would like for more putts to drop. I enjoyed a great year in 2013 finishing on a high in Dubai so I feel confident.”

The format of play for the EurAsia Cup will see five fourball matches being played on the first day followed by five foursomes matches on day two and 10 singles matches on the final day.

Tags / Keywords: Sport, Golf, golf, Thongchai Jaidee, EurAsia Cup

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