Graeme McDowell (Getty Images)
Graeme McDowell, the first of four automatic qualifiers, will be among the biggest names starring for Team Europe at the inaugural EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM.
After being unveiled as European Captain at a press conference in Hong Kong, Miguel Angel Jiménez announced the first four automatic qualifiers for his ten-man team to face Thongchai Jaidee’s Asian Team at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur from March 27-29, 2014.
McDowell will be joined in Malaysia by Jamie Donaldson, Victor Dubuisson and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño, all four securing their places on the team thanks to their final position in The 2013 Race to Dubai.
Having claimed the winning point at The 2010 Ryder Cup and as the current Volvo World Match Play champion, McDowell knows a thing or two about the pressures of team golf and the unique nature of match play.
The 2010 US Open Champion will be a huge presence both inside and outside the ropes for Jiménez, and he is relishing the chance to contribute to more European success.
“I am really looking forward to playing the EurAsia Cup,” said McDowell, who finished the 2013 season fourth in The Race to Dubai. “It’s a great concept to bring Asia and Europe together and I think it has a lot of potential to become a very big event.
“Everyone knows the standards in Asian golf are continually rising and I have no doubt it will be a tough job to go away from home and win.
“But if we gel as a team and get the pairings right then we will have a chance because there will be a lot of quality and experienced players in the European Team and I am sure a few of them will be looking to sharpen their match play skills with an eye on The Ryder Cup next year.”
Donaldson, Dubuisson and Fernandez-Castaño are three such players who know that a strong showing in the EurAsia Cupcould boost their Ryder Cup hopes.
“It’s great to have qualified for the team,” said Donaldson, winner of the 2013 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Champions. “I have played for Great Britain and Ireland in the last two Seve Trophies and really enjoyed those experiences so it will be interesting to now represent Europe in a team competition.
“It’s obviously a big year for team golf in Europe with the EurAsia Cup in March and then The Ryder Cup in September so I am looking forward to trying to be involved in two winning European teams.”
Dubuisson, meanwhile, is still living in dreamland after his unforgettable victory over Tiger Woods and the rest of the best at the Turkish Airlines Open in November changed the path of his career. The young Frenchman’s victory in Turkey helped him finish the year at sixth in The Race to Dubai to qualify for Jiménez’s EurAsia Cup team.
“It’s amazing to qualify for this team,” said Dubuisson. “Winning in Turkey has changed so many things in my career and this is another benefit. It’s been a bit of a dream to be honest but hopefully I can continue to play at this level and help the team win the cup.”
Fernandez-Castaño, winner of the BMW Masters presented by SRE Group in October, is relishing the chance to play under his old friend and compatriot Jiménez.
“It will be an honour to represent Europe and a very special week for to play under Miguel,” said Fernandez-Castaño. “Spanish players have a rich history of playing for and then captaining European teams in Seve Trophies and Ryder Cups and it is nice to be a part of that tradition.
“The EurAsia Cup is a fantastic idea and could become something very special. This could be the beginning of a very special era of team golf for Asia and Europe and it is great to be involved the first match because it will be an historic occasion.”