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Tuesday, 09 January 2018
Arjun Atwal captain of Team Asia and Thomas Bjørn captain of Team Europe  (Getty Images)
Arjun Atwal captain of Team Asia and Thomas Bjørn captain of Team Europe (Getty Images)

Team captains Arjun Atwal and Thomas Bjørn gave an insight into their thought-processes ahead of the third edition of the EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM, which starts on Friday.

Dane Bjørn has six former Ryder Cup players at his disposal as he captains Team Europe who are looking to defend the title they comprehensively won 18 ½ to 5 ½  in 2016, while three-time European Tour winner Atwal will have little time to gel Team Asia, which consists of players from the European Tour, PGA Tour, Asia Tour and Japanese Tour.

The biennial event, which was first played in 2014, will be held at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the third time and Atwal is delighted to be part of the competition.

"To represent this team is truly an honour," Atwal said. "It's a lot of fun. I got to meet some of the guys that I didn't really know that well today and everyone is having a great time in the team room, on the golf course and that's what I want it to be like. It's been great.

"I feel kind of young to be a captain, honestly speaking. I was kind of surprised they asked me, but I feel really honoured that I am the captain of the Asian Team.

Everybody knows we are underdogs, except the feeling in my team room - Arjun Atwal

"I'm really enjoying it. I'm loving every single minute of it, and I don't have to hit a golf shot. So that's even a bonus."

The event will be a dress rehearsal for captain Bjørn for when he leads Europe at the The Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in eight months' time, but he is not taking Team Asia lightly, despite all 12 of his players having won on the European Tour, including last year's Race to Dubai winner, Tommy Fleetwood.

"We're very well aware that Asia has never fielded a stronger team than they do this time," the Dane said.

"Golf is a strange game. Whatever it says on the paper very rarely comes out on top. Golf in Asia is growing dramatically and the amount of players that are coming out of Asia in world golf shows where golf is going for the future, and that makes this event have a very good place in the game.

"I think the commitment from the players early on, wanting to play in this event, shows where European golf is. There's an excitement about representing Europe. That's something that says a lot about those 12 players in there. They want to win."

Both teams played out a 10-10 tie during the first edition of the competition in 2014 before Team Europe ran out convincing winners two years ago under the guidance of former Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke and Atwal feels that his opponents are strong favourites to retain the title.

"Everybody knows we are underdogs, except the feeling in my team room," he added. "You can be underdogs on paper, but once the matches start, it's not that you're playing a four-day stroke-play event, you're just trying to beat the opponents that you're playing."

Bjørn, who played in the first edition of the event in 2014, believes it will be an enjoyable experience for everyone involved and is open to the idea of switching the venue between the two continents in the future.

"We are all excited," the Team Europe captain said. "We're happy to be here and we're grateful to be here. It's been fun so far, and I'm sure it will be a memorable week for, not just for us, but for all 24 players that are here.

"This event has a great future. I think there's a growing relationship between Asian golf and European golf and therefore this tournament sits in a very good place.

"The tournament should continue and grow, any great team event I think will always alternate between being played at home and away, so I think there's a future for that."

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