Tuesday, 12 January 2016
Bernd Wiesberger   (Getty Images)
Bernd Wiesberger (Getty Images)

The Europeans have arrived in Malaysia for the 2016 EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM. Led by Darren Clarke, the team will be hoping to lift the trophy for the first time having tied the inaugural matches in 2014. Victor Dubuisson is the only player not making his EurAsia Cup debut this week, with all 12 players currently lodged in the top 80 in the Official World Golf Rankings. 

Here's a closer look at each of the dozen players who make up Clarke's side this week.

Danny Willett

Age: 28
World Ranking: 19
Professional Team Match Play Record (W-L-T): N/A

Pushed Rory McIlroy all the way in the 2015 Race to Dubai after a superb season which yielded two huge wins. Went into the final event of the campaign just 1,614 points behind the World Number Three, but his fourth place finish in the DP World Tour Championship proved immaterial as McIlroy marched to his third victory of the season. Had been in the top two in the Rankings for the entire season after winning the first tournament, the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City, South Africa. Shot weekend rounds of 65 and 66 for an 18 under par total at the Gary Player Country Club to win by four shots from compatriot Ross Fisher and claim the lucrative first prize. Added another title at the Omega European Masters, winning by one shot from fellow Sheffield resident Matthew Fitzpatrick with a brilliant display. Claimed his first European win at the 2012 BMW International Open, where he beat Marcus Fraser in a play-off at Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof in Cologne, Germany. The son of a preacher enjoyed a stunning amateur career, winning the English Amateur Championship at Royal St George’s after being crowned Yorkshire Amateur Champion in 2007, before going on to play in the Walker Cup and become number one amateur in Europe. Earned his 2009 playing rights after cruising through all three stages of the Qualifying School. Currently coached by Graham Walker, who was previously named in Golf Monthly’s Top 25 Coaches.

Shane Lowry

Age: 28
World Ranking: 21
Professional Team Match Play Record (W-L-T): N/A

Took a giant step on to the global stage when he won the 2015 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, holding off Major Champions Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk and Justin Rose to win by two shots at Firestone Country Club. Shot a flawless final round of 66 to become only the second European player since Darren Clarke in 2003 to take the title. Showed signs he was on the rise when he was runner-up behind good friend Rory McIlroy at the 2014 BMW PGA Championship and tied runner-up at the ISPS Handa Wales Open later that year. Moved into the top 50 in the World Ranking for the first time by finishing fifth at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. Captured the 2012 Portugal Masters – his second European Tour title – with a superb final round 66. Had already finished by the time Ross Fisher needed to hole a four-foot par putt on the 18th to force a play-off, and was soon jumping for joy when the Englishman missed. Shot to prominence in 2009 when he became only the third amateur to win a European Tour title – and the second that year following New Zealander Danny Lee – when he captured the Irish Open at County Louth Golf Club in Baltray, beating Robert Rock at the third hole of a play-off. His father, Brendan, was a famous Gaelic footballer who won the All-Ireland Championship with County Offaly in 1982.

Bernd Wiesberger

Age: 30
World Ranking: 33
Professional Team Match Play Record (W-L-T): 2-1-0

Claimed the biggest title of his career at the 2015 Alstom Open de France, winning in superb style at Le Golf National. Started the final day three shots off the lead but powered to a six under par 65, birdieing the tough par four 18th from 15 feet for good measure. That continued his affinity with France, having won twice there on the Challenge Tour in 2010 – first at the Golf Open de Lyon with a 62 on the final day and then the Golf Open du Grand Toulouse. Borrowed Branden Grace’s caddie, Shane, for the Lyon victory, and he was still on his bag five years later for the triumph in Paris. Won twice in the space of three months in 2012, first at the lucrative Ballantine’s Championship and then storming to victory in the Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity in his native Austria with a stunning final round of 65. The highlight of his 2014 campaign came at the US PGA Championship, where he had the honour of playing in the last group alongside eventual winner Rory McIlroy on the final day. A closing round of 74 left him in a tie for 15th. His love of skiing could have affected his golf plans in 2003, when he broke his collarbone in an accident on the slopes, but he recovered and enjoyed a successful amateur career. Having been taught by his father, he underlined his potential by winning the Austrian Amateur Stroke Play Championship three years running from 2004, before turning professional in 2006. Shares coaches with compatriot Markus Brier.

Victor Dubuisson

Age: 25
World Ranking: 32
Professional Team Match Play Record (W-L-T): 3-2-1

An emotional win at the Turkish Airlines Open in November was the highlight of the 2015 campaign. Birdied three of the last four holes in the final round for a six under par 66 and a one stroke victory over Jaco Van Zyl – his second in the event after claiming his maiden title in Turkey two years earlier. Broke down in tears in the arms of his coach on the 18th green, later explaining that the win helped banish the frustrations of a season plagued by personal problems. The year before, he arrived as a superstar after his epic battle with Australian Jason Day in the final of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. With the match all square after 18 holes, the Frenchman conjured some seemingly impossible shots from the desert to keep the match alive, but eventually lost on the 23rd hole. That helped earn him a place in the European Ryder Cup team, and he made a brilliant debut at Gleneagles, forming a strong partnership with Graeme McDowell and winning two and a half points from three. A year earlier he hinted at what was to come when he held off a group containing Tiger Woods, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter and birdied the final two holes to win in Turkey. Came through the 2010 European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage. Started playing golf aged 12 when he watched Woods win the 2002 Masters Tournament and decided he wanted to become a professional. Won the European Individual Amateur Championship in 2009, the year he made it to number one in the World Amateur Rankings. Came 24th in his first tournament as a professional, the 2010 Nordea Scandinavian Masters, and says his prize money of €16,400 went towards paying the rent for his apartment in the expensive French town of Cannes. Good friends with compatriot Jean-Baptiste Gonnet, who lives nearby, and the pair often play golf together.

Andy Sullivan

Age: 29
World Ranking: 36
Professional Team Match Play Record (W-L-T): N/A

Pushed Rory McIlroy all the way in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in 2015, but ultimately came up one stroke shy of the World Number Three. Despite settling for second, the performance capped a magnificent season, during which he won his first three European Tour titles. Triumphed twice in as many months in Johannesburg, first capturing the South African Open Championship, where he beat Charl Schwartzel in a play-off by holing a ten-foot birdie putt after a sublime approach from the rough. Added the Joburg Open eight weeks later, and in October romped to a nine stroke victory in the Portugal Masters, setting the lowest total of the season at 23 under par. Will remember 2014 for the hole-in-one at the KLM Open which won him a trip to space, and his rise to the top level of the game was equally meteoric. Turned professional in 2011 after representing Great Britain and Ireland in the Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club, where he won both his foursomes matches. At the end of that year he earned a debut campaign on the European Tour by taking the third card at the Qualifying School Final Stage, having successfully negotiated the Second Stage the week before. Was back at the Qualifying School Final Stage in 2012 after finishing 145th in the Race to Dubai, and again took the third card at the end of a steady week. Won titles across the globe in a stellar amateur career, including in Argentina, Australia and at the Scottish Amateur Open Stroke Play Championship. Is close friends with Steve Webster, having been born and raised in the same town of Nuneaton, and cites their fellow Midlands golfer Lee Westwood as his chief inspiration.

Chris Wood

Age: 28 
World Ranking: 41
Professional Team Match Play Record (W-L-T): 4-5-0

Made his long-awaited breakthrough in spectacular style at the 2013 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. Needing to birdie the par five 18th on the final day to join Sergio Garcia and George Coetzee in a play-off, the Englishman hit his second shot to 12 feet and holed the eagle putt for a sensational victory. Claimed his second title in June 2015 at the Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity, where a final round five under par 67 gave him a two stroke victory. Was the perfect comeback after five months out the previous winter with a broken hand, sustained while playing tennis. Showed enormous potential at The 139th Open Championship in 2008. Finished in a tie for fifth at Royal Birkdale while still an amateur, so winning the Silver Medal, and having subsequently turned professional he took a share of third place at Turnberry one year later, missing out on a play-off by one shot. Received the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award in 2009, having earned his playing rights by coming fifth at the Qualifying School Final Stage in late 2008. Had several near-misses before breaking his duck in 2013, including finishing runner-up in the 2012 Sicilian Open and losing a play-off to Louis Oosthuizen in the 2011 Africa Open. While 2014 was another strong season, racking up six top tens, he might remember it as the year he famously ripped the back of his trousers while lining up a putt, providing photos that instantly went viral online. At 6ft 6ins, he matches Robert Karlsson and Thomas Pieters as the tallest players on Tour.

Matt Fitzpatrick

Age: 21
World Ranking: 44
Professional Team Match Play Record (W-L-T): N/A

Validated his reputation as one of the rising stars of world golf when won his maiden European Tour title at the 2015 British Masters supported by Sky Sports. Closed out a superb wire-to-wire victory in front of packed galleries at Woburn Golf Club with a final round 68 to win by two shots, fulfilling the enormous potential he has shown in the early stages of his career. Was playing the event thanks to a sponsor’s invitation and was able to celebrate the victory with his parents, who watched every round. Two weeks later he carried that form to the UBS Hong Kong Open, where he was third, and in November made a brilliant World Golf Championships debut, finishing tied seventh at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China. Earlier in the season he finished runner-up to fellow Sheffield player Danny Willett at the Omega European Masters, and came within inches of a first 59 on The European Tour at the KLM Open, his birdie putt on the last at Kennemer Golf Club stopping agonisingly short. Came through the Qualifying School Final Stage at the end of 2014, taking the 11th card at PGA Catalunya Resort having successfully negotiated the Second Stage. Launched himself into the spotlight courtesy of a stellar amateur career in which he won the 2013 US Amateur Championship and was ranked Number One in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. Made the cut in both The 2013 Open Championship, finishing in a tie for 44th, as well as at the 2014 US Open Championship, where he was tied 48th.

Søren Kjeldsen

Age: 40
World Ranking: 47
Professional Team Match Play Record (W-L-T): 1-3-0

 

Enjoyed a summer to remember in 2015, first winning the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation – his first victory for six years – then reaching 500 European Tour appearances at the US PGA Championship. Celebrated the milestone properly the following week on home soil at the Made in Denmark, where he was tied second at the end of an emotional few days. Called it the best experience he has had on a golf course when thousands of fans packed the famous 16th hole with flags bearing ‘SK500’ in the first round, cheering wildly as his tee shot ended inches from the cup. His win at Royal County Down, where he beat Eddie Pepperell and Bernd Wiesberger in a play-off, ended a frustrating period and reignited his belief he could win despite turning 40. His previous win came at the 2009 Open de Andalucía de Golf, continuing his affinity with Spain having won the 2008 Volvo Masters at Valderrama. Showed his qualities as a tough competitor in his rookie season on the European Tour, leaving it late to secure his playing rights in 115th place on the Order of Merit. Captured his first title in the 2003 Diageo Championship at Gleneagles. Represented Denmark in the Eisenhower Trophy as an amateur before he qualified for the European Tour through the Challenge Tour Rankings in 1997. That year he also tested his stamina in another way by running a marathon and he achieved a highly respectable time of three hours and 54 minutes.

Kristoffer Broberg

Age: 29
World Ranking: 65
Professional Team Match Play Record (W-L-T): N/A

Claimed his first European Tour title in superb fashion in the third event of the 2015 Final Series, the BMW Masters. Carded a four under par 68 in the final round which left him tied for the lead with American Patrick Reed, then saw off the Ryder Cup star at the first hole of a play-off with a 12-foot birdie putt. Went into the week 61st in the Race to Dubai and needing a good performance to guarantee his place in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, and delivered in some style. Had been tipped as a European Tour winner since blitzing through the Challenge Tour in 2012. Won three titles in four weeks to earn automatic promotion – the first coming in only his second appearance on the second tier, at the Finnish Challenge. Triumphed in Norway the following week before completing the hat-trick at the Rolex Trophy a fortnight later. Finished second to Charl Schwartzel in the 2013 Alfred Dunhill Championship, albeit by a distant 12 shots, and had other close calls at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in 2014 and in Denmark in 2015, where he signed off with a 62. His close friend and compatriot Alex Noren claims Broberg practises more than any other player in the world, regularly training from dawn until dusk when he is at home.

Ross Fisher

Age: 35
World Ranking: 80
Professional Team Match Play Record (W-L-T): 7-7-0

Produced some strong performances in lucrative events in 2015, finishing second in the Nedbank Golf Challenge – the first event on the season – and tied third in the WGC-HSBC Champions in November. The last of his five European Tour wins came at the 2014 Tshwane Open. Proved he could handle pressure when he won the Irish Open in 2010, sealing a spot in the 2010 European Ryder Cup team. With five qualifying events remaining he was outside the automatic places, but triumphed with a two shot win over home favourite Padraig Harrington at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club. Contributed two points from four on his Ryder Cup debut at The Celtic Manor Resort to help Europe on their way to a narrow victory over the United States. Won the Volvo World Match Play title at Finca Cortesin in November 2009, defeating American Anthony Kim in the 36 hole final to collect the third European Tour win of his career. Proved himself capable of challenging at the highest level by leading all four Major Championships at one stage in 2009, with his best finish coming at The Open where he took fifth spot. Left Turnberry in a hurry to attend the birth of his first child, daughter Eve. After a promising rookie season in 2006, he stepped up another level in 2007 when he won the KLM Open, his maiden title. Came close to a second title at the start of the 2008 campaign but lost out to Phil Mickelson in a play-off for the HSBC Champions. Soon banished that disappointment with a landslide seven stroke victory at the European Open. Learned the game at Wentworth Club after being introduced to it by his step-father at the age of three.

Ian Poulter

Age: 40
World Ranking: 56
Professional Team Match Play Record (W-L-T): 20-7-5

Had a busy end to the 2015 season, making a last-minute dash to play in the UBS Hong Kong Open, having dropped out of the world’s top 50 the week before, meaning he would not qualify for the WGC-HSBC Champions and therefore would be one short of the minimum 13 events necessary to retain his European Tour Membership. Two years earlier he was involved in an epic duel with Henrik Stenson for the Race to Dubai title, producing magnificent performances in the last three events to keep the pressure on the Swede. Finished second in the WGC-HSBC Champions, nearly successfully defending the title he won a year earlier, and then had another top five in the Turkish Airlines Open to remain in contention. Took second place in the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, but it was not enough as Stenson romped to victory and was crowned European Number One. Has become known as Mr Ryder Cup after his fearsome performances, none better than when he led Europe to a brilliant comeback victory in 2012. Won four points from four at Medinah, holing five nerveless birdie putts in the last five holes in the Saturday afternoon fourball match with Rory McIlroy against Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson to claim a point, then, second out in the singles, beating Webb Simpson by two holes. Also won three points from four at The Celtic Manor Resort in 2010, and in 2008 he was the leading points scorer at Valhalla with four from five. His considerable ability in match play golf also earned him the 2011 Volvo World Match Play Championship and the 2010 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Was also in contention to win the Masters Tournament in 2010. Renowned for having a passion for fashion and flair, he launched his own clothing range in 2007. Took up the game at the age of four when dad, Terry, a single figure handicapper, gave him a cut-down three wood. Won the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year in 2000. Is an avid supporter of Arsenal FC.

Lee Westwood

Age: 42
World Ranking: 51
Professional Team Match Play Record (W-L-T): 34-22-7

Reached World Number One for the first time in his career in November 2010, ending Tiger Woods’ five-year reign at the top. Lost the coveted spot in May 2011, when he was defeated by Luke Donald – the man who leapfrogged him – in a play-off for the BMW PGA Championship. Captured his 23rd European Tour title at the 2014 Maybank Malaysian Open, where an 18 under par total gave him a commanding seven shot victory. Helped Europe dominate The 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in his ninth appearance in the biennial event, fully justifying being selected as a captain’s pick with a return of two points. Also played his part in the magnificent Ryder Cup victory at Medinah two years earlier, when he also won two points, including a crucial victory against Matt Kuchar in the Sunday singles as Europe staged a miraculous comeback. Despite having just returned from a six-week lay-off with a calf injury he was also instrumental in the 2010 victory at The Celtic Manor Resort. Despite Europe’s defeat at Valhalla in 2008, he equalled Arnold Palmer’s Ryder Cup record after making it 12 consecutive matches unbeaten. Between those two Ryder Cup appearances, he was crowned Europe’s Number One with a stunning performance in the 2009 DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, so becoming the eighth Englishman to lift the Harry Vardon Trophy on two occasions or more, having previously won it in 2000. Is now second only to Sir Nick Faldo in the list of England’s most prolific champions.

So that's the team. Tune in Friday to see the first six fourball matches.

 

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