Thomas Björn, Stephen Gallacher, Miguel Angel Jiménez and Joost Luiten have qualified to represent Europe at the inaugural EURASIA CUP presented DRB-HICOM.
Those four players join Graeme McDowell, Jamie Donaldson, Victor Dubuisson and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño as the eight automatic qualifiers for the European team, which will be captained by Jiménez, at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur from March 27-29.
The Spaniard announced the second batch of four qualifiers, taken from Official World Golf Ranking, at The European Tour’s Wentworth headquarters today (Monday), just hours after Gallacher’s brilliant victory in the Dubai Desert Classic propelled the Scotsman into the world’s top 40.
Jiménez said: “I have a very nice team with the addition of these qualifiers. Thomas Björn has been playing very well for some time and particularly at the end of last year in winning the Nedbank Golf Challenge. He is right on form.
“Stephen Gallacher has just won in Dubai for the second year in a row at the Emirates so he is clearly hitting the ball very well. Then we have Joost Luiten, who beat me last year in Holland, and he is a very good player who is improving all the time. He is very consistent.
“And then there is me with half a century on my shoulders but I can still play some golf! I won at the end of last year in Hong Kong and I’m really looking forward to leading this side in the first EurAsia Cup.
“The combination of experience and the power of youth will work very well. Graeme McDowell, Thomas and I have plenty of experience from many Ryder Cups and playing all around the world for many years while the young guns bring power and fresh spirit. It’s a great mixture for any team.”
With 35 European Tour wins and six Ryder Cup appearances between them, Björn and Jiménez will bring a wealth of experience to the ten-man European team to face Thongchai Jaidee’s Asian side at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club, while Gallacher and Luiten are two of the latest European stars to have recently broken into the elite top 50 of the world game.
Björn has been in brilliant form of late, winning the Nedbank Golf Challenge against a world class field in December before continuing that fine form in January to put himself in pole position in The Race to Dubai.
He said: “I am looking forward to the event and really happy to be able to support Miguel and the team because it is an event that has real potential with Europe taking on Asia. A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to make the event happen and to be a part of the first one will be great.
“We are going to have a really good team that has a very good balance to it. Obviously Miguel, Graeme and I will bring a lot of experience and hopefully we can help the young guys realise what these team events, and representing Europe and our Tour, are all about.
“There are a lot of players on our team who will have a great chance to play The Ryder Cup at Gleneagles and it will be great for Paul (McGinley) to see them in the team environment and look at how they handle it all.
“It will be a very hard competition to win because the Asian team is full of top class players and will be desperate to win on their home turf. The heat and conditions will be to their advantage too, but if we play to the best of our abilities we can win.”
Gallacher, now a three time winner on The European Tour, was still pinching himself after defeating Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and co to become the first man in the 25 year history of the Dubai Desert Classic to successfully defend the title, but was delighted to have qualified for Jiménez’s team.
The Scotsman said: “Winning in Dubai again has put me in the top 50 which obviously opens a lot of doors for me. I didn’t realise how quickly the first one would open though and it’s brilliant to be part of the European team for the EURASIA CUP.”
Luiten, another three time winner on Tour, is relishing the chance to represent Europe again, having played a starring role in the most recent edition of the Seve Trophy, where Continental Europe defeated Great Britain and Ireland.
The Dutchman said: “I can’t wait to play the EURASIA CUP. It is totally different when you play a team event and it a great opportunity to spend some time with a lot of guys who have a lot of experience and see how they do it and to learn about playing for Europe. That should help me grow as a player and we have a great mix of players and a strong team as well as an amazing captain in Miguel. It’s certainly not going to be a boring week!”
Jiménez will add two captain’s picks to complete his ten-man team to face Asia in the near future.