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Wednesday, 10 January 2018
Thomas Pieters, Ross Fisher and Rafa Cabrera Bello talk to the media  (Getty Images)
Thomas Pieters, Ross Fisher and Rafa Cabrera Bello talk to the media (Getty Images)

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European stars Thomas Pieters, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Ross Fisher are relishing the prospect of playing match play golf as they prepare to take on Asia at the 2018 EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM.

Belgian Pieters is a big fan of the head-to-head format and impressed on his Ryder Cup debut in 2016, delivering four points out of a possible five at Hazeltine National to become the most successful European rookie in history.

And the 25 year old, who will host the Belgian Knockout as the European Tour returns to his homeland in 2018, is looking forward to taking on the hosts at Glenmarie Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur this week.

He said: "It's going to be super exciting and I can't wait to get going on Friday.

"I like match play a lot more. That's why I'm hosting my own tournament as match play, as well. It gets me more excited sometimes from the first tee.

"You're just playing one guy and you want to beat him. Obviously I love playing the majors and big tournaments but sometimes I can get a bit uninterested. So that's how match play helps me."

Englishman Fisher was a member of the European side who recorded a thumping 18½-5½ win over Team Asia in 2016 and he is thrilled to be back in a team environment for this week's showpiece.

"I love match play," said Fisher, who represented Europe at the Ryder Cup in 2010. "We don't get to play it that often, so when we do, it's nice to have the chance and especially in this kind of environment, playing in the team format.

"We don't get loads of time at all to play team golf. It's great fun and you make new friendships."

Fisher is particularly looking forward to the foursomes matches, which take place on Saturday.

I always really look forward to foursomes because I think that's a really challenging and testing way of golf - Ross Fisher

He added: "Like Thomas said, you're only playing against one guy in singles - foursomes and fourball are a little different.

"I love foursomes. I think it's a real test of golf because in fourball and singles, it's kind of still like stroke play because you're playing your own ball, whereas in foursomes, it's proper golf because you're playing for your partner.

"You don't want to let him down and he doesn't want to let you down and you still obviously have got to play two other guys and you're trying to beat them. I always really look forward to foursomes because I think that's a really challenging and testing way of golf."

Fellow Englishman Fitzpatrick, who represented Europe at both the EurAsia Cup and Ryder Cup in 2016, thinks match play adds an extra dimension to golf, making it feel closer to football.

 

He said: "I think golf does need a little bit of a different format, maybe more team events, maybe more partner events.

"I think the whole match play feeling, you see it at the Ryder Cup - and obviously the US guys have the Presidents Cup - you see it in the atmosphere, the crowd and the players. 

"It means a little bit more to get a point for other guys. It's as close as we get to playing football.

"I think having something different rather than just the same old four rounds of stroke play would make it more exciting for people to play the game, as well.

"I really think it will really help to hopefully have a few more events like this, and what Thomas is doing, and grow the game even more."

Europe have once again named a very strong team for this week's event, with six members of their team inside the world's top 20.

But Spain's Rafa Cabrera Bello knows the visitors will have their work cut out.

He said: "Yes, if you have to pick a favourite, it would be Europe. But people don't win tournaments or events on paper. You win them out there on the golf course.

"They are playing in normal conditions for them. We are not playing on these types of greens that often and we don't play in this type of weather and heat that often.

"So I don't think in this case the World Rankings are actually a good reflection because we tend to play other climates in other parts of the world.

"If we played here as often as they did maybe it would be a better picture. But I don't think the World Rankings show how close the actual tournament is going to be."

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