Thongchai Jaidee (Getty Images)
Team Asia Captain Thongchai Jaidee is relishing the challenge of leading his men against Europe in the inaugural EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM later this month.
The 44 year old has been busy preparing for the contest from March 27-29 at Glenmarie Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur, and believes Team Asia can beat Europe, who are led by Spaniard Miguel Angel Jiménez.
“I’m really looking forward to captaining Team Asia,” said Jaidee. “I believe I have a very strong squad which is capable of challenging and beating Team Europe.
“I’ve been talking to the Asian players in recent weeks about the possible pairings and everyone is very excited to come together under Team Asia and play in Malaysia.
“As captain, I believe I need to lead by example and that means playing my best possible golf to deliver points for the team. Match play golf is always very exciting and the scores very close, so I will be ready to give everything I have for my team.
“We are fighting for our pride and honour and as captain, I am ready to do that, and hopefully inspire the other nine players to produce their best golf for the team.”
Thongchai, a three-time Asian Tour number one, feels his team has a good blend of youth and experience, adding: “Most of my team play on the Asian Tour, so we know each other very well. Although Kim Hyung-Sung, Koumei Oda and Hideto Tanihara are Japan Tour regulars, they have also played regularly in the co-sanctioned tournaments between the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour and I believe all ten players will bond strongly together for one common goal – which is to win the EurAsia Cup.
“Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Siddikur Rahman and Anirban Lahiri all qualified as the top four Asians from the Asian Tour Order of Merit. They are all in their 20s and their qualification is a reflection of the rise of the new generation of players in Asia.
“They are all very exciting players who have achieved success at such a young age and their presence in Team Asia is a reflection of their abilities.
“Koumei Oda, Hideto Tanihara and Kim Hyung-sung enjoyed fantastic seasons in Japan last year and they are all very capable of matching up against the Europeans. The trio are all attacking players which will suit match play competitions well.”
Jaidee’s ‘captain’s picks’ were Nicholas Fung and Prayad Marksaeng.
“I picked Nicholas Fung as he is the top local Malaysian golfer and he enjoyed a solid 2013 campaign and I felt it would be important to have the best Malaysian player on my team,” he continued. “I also picked Prayad who won twice in 2013 on the Asian Tour. With his vast experience, he will be able to guide our younger players.”
Jaidee is hoping the crowds will show a similar passion to a Ryder Cup, and cheer the home side on to victory.
“We have seen in The Ryder Cup how the home fans have become the “15th club” for the home team through their passionate support,” he said. “I have played in Malaysia for a very long time and I know the fans love their golf. With my success in the Malaysian Open in the past and with Kiradech being the reigning Malaysian Open champion, I’m sure we will have plenty of local support which will be important for the team.”