The emerging strength of Asian golf was for all to see when Team Asia completed a remarkable comeback to share the inaugural EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM with Europe on Saturday.
Trailing 0-5 after the opening fourball session and 3-7 after Friday's foursomes, Team Asia, who was captained by three-time Order of Merit winner Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, dug deep and showed their fighting spirit by winning six matches and halving two matches to tie the match at 10-10 for a share of the spoils with Team Europe at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club.
India’s Anirban Lahiri, who contributed with a 2 & 1 win against France’s Victor Dubuisson, feels Asia deserves to be mentioned in the same breathe as the golfing powerhouses from Europe and 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 golfers as well.
“Everybody puts European golf up there and I think it's time Asian golf gets the credit we deserve,” said Lahiri, a three-time Asian Tour winner.
Gaganjeet Bhullar, who enjoyed a convincing 4 & 3 victory over Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen, shared similar sentiments with his fellow compatriot. “When we were walking off the 18th green today, 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 they asked if we have a tour. With this performance, people will know that the next superstars are coming from the Asian Tour.”
Despite the lack of match play experience, Bhullar, a five-time Asian Tour winner, was delighted that Team Asia rose to the occasion and proved their worth on the world stage.
“If you look at the PGA Tour and the European Tour, they get to play The Ryder Cup and The Presidents Cup. For us, this is the first time we all have an opportunity to actually showcase Asian golf,” said Bhullar.
“We’re proud of how we picked ourselves up the last 48 hours. I think it's a great moment for Asian golf because it's put us on the map and I know a lot of people will now take notice of 10 of us and the Asian Tour,” added Bhullar.
Thongchai hailed the courageous fight back from his team and was delighted with their never-say-die attitude. “I’m really proud of my team as they did a really good job by winning seven points today. It was a very good comeback and we showed that we can never be written off,” said Thongchai.
The decorated Thai, a 13-time Asian Tour winner, led by example by defeating Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell 3&2.
That valuable point won also allowed the Thai to gain some revenge over McDowell after losing to the Northern Irishman in the finals of the Volvo World Match Play Championship last year.
“Everyone played really well today and it was simply unbelievable. If given the opportunity again, I want to play in the EurAsia Cup again,” said Thongchai.
Team Europe’s captain Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain aptly summed up the assessment that Asian golf now belongs on the world stage.
“It's an amazing day of golf. It's been very tough. The Europeans did not win the tournament and the Asian Team played very well. That showed that golf is very, very healthy all over the world,” said Jimenez.
The EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM is sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour. Professional Golf Malaysia (PGM) will act as the local facilitator for the event.