Wednesday, 5 February 2014 | MYT 8:36 PM
Nicholas selected to play in EurAsia Cup
Thongchai Jaidee (right) with Nicholas Fung after the press conference to announce the selection for Team Asia for the EurAsia Cup tournament.
GLENMARIE: Team Asia captain Thongchai Jaidee added more Malaysian flavour to the inaugural EurAsia Cup by selecting local boy Nicholas Fung as the first of his two captain’s picks.
Thongchai made the announcement on Wednesday after he revealed three more players who will be joining Team Asia - South Korea’s Kim Hyung-sung and Japanese duo Koumei Oda and Hideto Tanihara. The trio are the leading Asian players on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR).
They will join Thongchai, India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar and Anirban Lahiri, Bangladesh’s Siddikur Rahman and Thai upstart Kiradech Aphibarnrat to form the 10-man Team Asia who will take on a formidable Team Europe led by Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain.
Jimenez’s star-studded line-up includes European Ryder Cup hero Graeme McDowell (Northern Ireland), Stephen Gallacher (Scotland), Thomas Bjorn (Denmark), Joost Luiten (Holland), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Spain), Victor Dubuisson (France) and Jaime Donaldson (Wales) - who are all ranked in the top 50 of the OWGR. The two captain’s picks have not been announced yet.
The 13-time Asian Tour winner Thongchai said that he chose Nicholas because of his strong performance last year where he won the Asian Development Tour (ADT) Order of Merit after securing one win and six top 10 finishes.
“We have a good team in place now. Kim won the Japan Tour last year and we now have Oda and Tanihara who are also very steady players. I wanted a strong Malaysian in the team and after what he achieved last year, it was very hard to ignore Nicholas,” said Thongchai during the announcement at the Glenmarie Gardens show house here.
Nicholas said he was floored when he received the call last week calling it a real “pinch me” moment. However, the 23-year-old hopes he will be lucky again at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club (GGCC), which hosts the EurAsia Cup.
Last year, Nicholas’ second place finish at the PGM Northport Glenmarie Masters, also held at the GGCC, inspired his great run on the ADT.
“I’ve played here before, the course is short and very suited to Asian players. Plus, we play in this kind of humid weather all the time so that could also be an advantage. I think we just have to ensure we capitalise on these advantages and in match play anything can happen,” said Nicholas, who has nine pro wins under his belt since 2010.
As championship will begin with five four-ball matches (March 27), five foursomes (March 28) and 10 singles matches (March 29), the 44-year-old Thongchai plans to fully utilise the 49 days he has left to plot Team Asia’s path to glory.
“I’m very excited to be both captain and player. It’s my first time ... it’s exciting and interesting at the same time,” he said.
“Europe have a strong team but I’d like to lead Asia to victory especially in the first edition. In this sort of format, I think you can’t predict a winner. This course can make a lot of birdies and can be fun to watch so we have to work it hard and just play it ball by ball, hole by hole,” added the Thai, who has amassed 13 Asian Tour victories and five European Tour wins since 2000.
“I have one more captain’s pick and then we can get cracking and start talking strategy. I do have some plans in mind, but we have to sit down as a team and discuss. We have 49 days to do it - we’ll play three rounds of team practice to link up play, get comfortable with each other. I think we’ll be okay.”