Sunday, 30 March 2014 | MYT 5:55 PM
Asian golf on the rise after EurAsia Cup success
Team Asia's captainThongchai Jaidee (right) wrestles for the EurAsia Cup trophy with Team Europe's captain Miguel Angel Jimenez. - filepic
KUALA LUMPUR: The inaugural EurAsia Cup, which ended on Saturday, was seen as the perfect opportunity for Asian golfers to showcase their skills on the world stage.
Not much was expected of them. In fact, not many gave them a chance of beating Team Europe, or even share the spoils.
The naysayers must have thought they were right when Team Asia suffered a 5-0 drubbing in the fourballs session on the opening day at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club.
Instead of capitulating, Team Asia, led by skipper Thongchai Jaidee, hauled themselves back into contention in the foursomes on the second day, winning 3-2 to make the overall score 7-3 in Team Europe’s favour.
The fightback was on.
On the final day, the tenacious Team Asia completed the turnaround by winning the singles event 7-3 – leaving both teams tied at 10-10 and being declared joint champions of the inaugural EurAsia Cup.
There is no doubt that the comeback gave the spectators the kind of excitement they were looking for but, more importantly, it also showed the world at large that Asian golf is on the upswing.
Two of Team Asia’s members – India’s Anirban Lahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar – are sure that Asian golf has proved itself over the three days of action.
Lahiri feels that Asia deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the golfing powerhouses from Europe and the United States.
“A lot of the people wrote us off after the first day. I was reading a lot in the media and on Twitter and Facebook and there was a lot of backlash. But I think all of us found that strength deep within us to come back and show that we are good golfers as well.
“Everybody puts European golf up there and I think it’s time Asian golf gets the credit it deserves,” said Lahiri, a three-time Asian Tour winner.
Bhullar feels the same.
“When we were walking off the 18th green on Saturday, we felt a great sense of achievement,” he said.
“Our results showed how far we have come. There was a time when we used to say we were from Asia and people would ask if we have a Tour. With this performance, people will know that the next superstars are going to come from the Asian Tour.”
Another plus point was the superb performance by Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung, especially in the way he held his own against Team Europe skipper Miguel Angel Jimenez, a winner of 20 European Tour titles.
Although Nicholas lost by one hole to the Spaniard, his spirited performance – in taking Jimenez all the way to the 18th hole – certainly bodes well for Malaysian golf.
Even Thongchai was blown away by the experience.
“Everyone played really well in the tournament and it was simply unbelievable. If can, I want to play in the EurAsia Cup again. We are up there with the best,” he said.
And the best news has to be that Malaysia will host the next two editions of this enthralling golf tournament – in 2016 and 2018.
If this year’s action is anything to go by, then bring it on!