Shah Alam, Malaysia, February 5: Japanese stars Koumei Oda and Hideto Tanihara, along with Kim Hyung-sung of Korea, have earned their places to represent Team Asia in next month’s inaugural EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club in Malaysia.
Team Asia’s playing captain Thongchai Jaidee also announced at a press conference held at the Glenmarie Gardens, an exclusive prestigious property developed by the DRB-HICOM Group, that Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung will be one of his captain’s picks.
A second captain’s pick will be named later to complete the 10-man Team Asia line-up which will face Team Europe, led by playing captain Miguel Angel Jimenez, in the Ryder Cup-styled showdown from March 27-29.
The press conference was also attended by Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid, Chairman of Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM), Datuk Mohammed Razeek Md Hussain, Chief Operating Officer, Services and Properties of DRB-HICOM Berhad, Mr Kyi Hla Han, Chairman of Asian Tour and Mr Charlie Tingey, Senior Director of EurAsia Golf Ltd.
Datuk Mohamed Razeek said: “It is exciting to see the inclusion of established Japanese stars Hideto Tanihara and Koumei Oda and Korea’s Kim Hyung-sung, whose presence will ensure a diverse Team Asia in the EurAsia Cup. We believe that Team Asia is strongly represented by the finest players from across the continent and we are equally excited that captain Thongchai has picked our very own Malaysian star, Nicholas Fung as one of his captain’s selections. We are confident the Malaysian golf fans will be out in full force in March to support Nicholas and the rest of Team Asia against Europe.”
New Asian Tour number one Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand, Bangladeshi Siddikur Rahman and Indian duo Anirban Lahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar qualified for Team Asia after finishing as the top four Asian players on the final 2013 Asian Tour Order of Merit.
Europe has already named Major champion and Ryder Cup hero Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Frenchman Victor Dubuisson and Jamie Donaldson of Wales from the 2013 Race to Dubai rankings while Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn, Dutchman Joost Luiten, Scotsman Stephen Gallacher and Jimenez qualified through the world ranking. Jimenez will announce his two captain’s picks in due course.
Thongchai, who is a three-time Asian Tour number one, said that Kim, who finished second on the Japan Golf Tour money list last season, Oda, who was third on the rankings, and Tanihara, sixth on the money list, earned their right to represent Asia through the Official World Golf Ranking selection criteria.
“Kim has emerged as one of Korea's rising stars in recent years and enjoyed a fantastic season in Japan with one victory and multiple top-10s to finish second on the money list in 2013. Oda also produced one of his best ever seasons by placing third on the money rankings with one victory and eight top-10s and I’m delighted to have them in my team along with Tanihara, who is a 10-time winner in Japan.
"I am also happy to announce Nicholas as one of my captain's picks. As Malaysia's leading player over the past couple of years, I felt that we needed to have the top local player in Team Asia to carry our challenge. Nicholas has become a strong golfer and I was pleased to see him winning the Asian Development Tour Order of Merit title in 2013 and also earn his full Asian Tour card by finishing 36th on the Order of Merit through two very strong performances in the Indonesia Open and Resorts World Manila Masters at the end of last season."
The 34-year-old Kim, ranked 70th in the world, enjoyed his finest year as a professional when he notched one victory and 13 top-10s. He said he was looking forward to teaming up with the cream of Asian golf to face Europe.
"The EurAsia Cup is a wonderful initiative by the Asian Tour and European Tour. As a member of the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour, I believe we'll see a very strong Team Asia being represented in Malaysia under our captain Thongchai Jaidee. The standard of golf in Asia has risen immensely over the years and I am sure we will gel together as a team to compete strongly against Europe,” said Kim.
The powerful Oda is equally excited at the prospect of facing Team Europe in the matchplay extravaganza. Like Kim, he also enjoyed a fine 2013 season with his sixth career win in Japan.
“I am looking forward to competing in the EurAsia Cup along with many of the best players from Asia. It should be a great event and Team Asia will be aiming to make full use of our home advantage to triumph in the first edition,” said Oda, who is ranked 76th in the world.
Tanihara, who notched one victory and eight top-10s last season, said: “"It gives me great pride and honour to represent Team Asia in this first EurAsia Cup tournament. I have always enjoyed watching the Ryder Cup matches between Europe and the United States and the EurAsia Cup will give the Asian players the opportunity to come together as a team to compete against Europe. I'm determined to help Team Asia beat Europe.”
The 24-year-old Fung rose to prominence last season by topping the Asian Development Tour Order of Merit following one victory and six other top-10s. He was also fifth in the Resorts World Manila Masters and runner-up in the Indonesia Open on the Asian Tour, finishing 36th on the Order of Merit to earn full playing rights for the 2014 season.
"I am honoured that Thongchai has selected me as one of his captain's picks. It is a great privilege to be the sole Malaysian representative in Team Asia and I can't wait for the EurAsia Cup to start,” said Fung.
“I enjoyed a good season in 2013 and I hope to continue to play my best golf for Team Asia in March. It will be extremely exciting to tee up in Malaysia alongside many other great Asian players to face Europe. I intend to compete with pride and fight for our team’s honour."
The format of play for the EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM will see five fourball matches being played on the first day (March 27, Thursday) followed by five foursomes matches on day two (March 28, Friday) and 10 singles matches on the final day (March 29, Saturday) at Glenmarie’s Garden course.
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.