EurAsia Cup Preview: Asia's best up against Europe's best
Team Asia, captained by India's veteran golfer Jeev Milkha Singh and featuring compatriots Anirban Lahiri and S.S.P. Chawrasia, go into battle against Europe in the second edition of the EurAsia Cup starting on Friday.
Two years ago, the inaugural showdown ended in a thrilling 10-10 at Glenmarie Golf and Country Club, with Asia producing a miraculous fightback, but team captain Jeev and counterpart Darren Clarke have been clear in their intent to emerge victorious on Sunday evening.
Jeev picked newly crowned Asian Tour number one Lahiri of India for the opening Fourball match on Friday with South Korean Jeunghun Wang while Clarke opted for Europe's matchplay expert Ian Poulter of England and Austrian Bernd Wiesberger.
Asia's second pairing will also prove a formidable one with the team's two highest ranked players in the world, Thai star Thongchai Jaidee and Byeonghun An of South Korea, partnering to face English duo Danny Willet, who finished second in European Tour 2015, and Matthew Fitzpatrick.
Local heroes, Danny Chia and Nicholas Fung will take on Frenchman Victor Dubuisson and Soren Kjeldsen of Denmark in the third match, Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand and South Korea's K.T. Kim will face England's Ross Fisher and Kristoffer Broberg of Sweden.
Japanese veteran star Shingo Katayama and China's Wu Ashun will square off against Irishman Shane Lowry and Andy Sullivan of England while India's Chawrasia and Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand will tackle English duo Lee Westwood and Chris Wood in the bottom match.
Captain Jeev, a former two-time Asian Tour champion, said: "I'm really excited about this. In fact, both the teams are very strong. End of the day, I think whoever holes more putts, good course management, that's where it's all going to come down to. Both the sides are really experienced. But I still feel my team looks very good. I'm positive, I'm excited, and I believe in my team that they are going to do really well," Jeev said in an Asian Tour release.
"I think my players are going to live up to the pressure to what all they are here for. They are here for a reason. They have earned this. They are good enough to play on the world stage. So I feel that they have got to enjoy this, and they have got to make the most out of it."
Lahiri, who delivered two points for Asia in 2014, cannot wait to lead the home team out on Friday morning with Wang, who is the baby of the squad at 20-years-old.
"I'm really looking forward to it. I think it's an honour to be going out first. I think it's going to be a lot of fun playing with Wang. I really think he's a big talent. I'm just going to try to help him play freely. I think it's going to be a good match starting up and I think it's going to be critical that we get off to a good start, and just go out there and be aggressive," the world No.43 said.
The EurAsia Cup will feature 24 matches, with day one showcasing six Fourball matches, followed by six Foursomes matches and 12 Singles matches on the third day. The winning team will share prize money of $3.6 million while the runners-up will share $1.2 million.