Kuala Lumpur, March 19: Asian number one Kiradech Aphibarnrat is ready to rise to the occasion at the inaugural EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM next week at a place he calls “my second home”.
The talented Thai, who won the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit crown last season thanks largely to his victory at the Maybank Malaysian Open and a joint third finish in the CIMB Classic, feels that match play golf fits his natural aggressive style of play as he prepares to be part of Team Asia to face Team Europe at Glenmarie Golf and Country Club from March 27-29.
“Malaysia is like my second home,” said the 24-year-old Kiradech, whose grip it-and-rip it style of play has won him many admirers all over the world.
“I won the Maybank Malaysian Open and finished third in the CIMB Classic which helped me win the Order of Merit. I have a lot friends and fans in Malaysia and I’m looking forward to their support when the EurAsia Cup starts. It will be fantastic to see our fans decked in red colours (Team Asia colours) at Glenmarie to support Team Asia.”
Kiradech, who has enjoyed several other top-10s in Malaysia, is excited to go head-on against Team Europe, which will be led by captain Miguel Angel Jimenez and includes established Ryder Cup stars such as Thomas Bjorn and Graeme McDowell.
He believes his attacking game will fit perfectly for match play golf which the EurAsia Cup will see five fourball matches being staged on the first day (March 27, Thursday), followed by five foursomes matches on day two (March 28, Friday) and 10 singles matches on the last day (March 29, Saturday).
“From a very young age, I was taught by my first coach to play aggressively and aim for the pins. Therefore, I think my game is well suited for match play as I’m always aiming for birdies and eagles. I think match play will come naturally for me and I’m looking forward to playing in the fourball and foursomes with any partner. It doesn’t matter who I partner as I believe all the Team Asia players are great players. I think the format is very exciting for fans as there will be a lot of amazing shots being played by the golfers,” said Kiradech.
“Team Europe will have several players with a lot of Ryder Cup experience but Team Asia will have home ground advantage. Our players have also become very strong over the years following the opportunities to compete in the co-sanctioned tournaments and we have many really good young and experienced players who will provide a good mix in our team. It will be a close match but at the end of the day, I have every confidence that Team Asia can defeat Team Europe. We have this belief in our hearts and mind that we can do it.
Kiradech expects the EurAsia Cup to grow in stature after its launch next week.
“I’m really excited to play. I believe it will be a great match and I’m up for the challenge. Admittedly, I haven’t been shooting low scores this season as I’ve been playing in new events on new courses in the US over the past few weeks. Since the start of the year, I’ve switched to Callaway clubs and I now feel that it’s 90% there. I have also missed my coach’s influence (Pro Jew who died in December). I’m trying to remember what he has taught me previously, taking it step by step. I am not sure what exactly is missing but I feel my game is just about to hit its best form again. I’ve been practising hard to prepare my game for the EurAsia Cup. I’m looking forward to it and I hope to contribute to a victory for Team Asia.”
With veteran countrymen Thongchai Jaidee, who is the team captain, and Prayad Marksaeng in the team as well, Kiradech is looking forward to partnering them in either the fourball or foursomes matches.
“Growing up as a golfer, I looked up to Thongchai and Prayad as they have achieved so much success on the Asian Tour. When I joined the professional ranks in 2009, both of them took me under their wing which wasn’t necessary on their part and we played numerous practice rounds together which really helped me settle down in my career. I enjoyed the experience of practising with them and would try to tap their thoughts and finer points of the game. Both Thongchai and Prayad have so much to offer to the younger players like myself and I really appreciate them helping me,” said Kiradech.
“I believe Thongchai will be a great leader. He is one of Asia’s living golf legends and he’s still capable of playing his best golf as we saw with his tied sixth finish at the recent WGC-Cadillac Championship. I am confident he will play hard to win all of his matches and inspire the rest of Team Asia players to victory.”
Tickets for the inaugural EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM are available for purchase via online and hotline. Golf fans can purchase tickets on www.ticketpro.com.my or call +603 7880 7999 for further details.
Tickets are priced as follow: Day 1 RM78, Day 2 RM78, Day 3 RM98 and Season Ticket RM158. Entry is free for children under the age of 16. Entry is free to all on March 26, Wednesday which is the pro-am day.
Each ticket will include a voucher for a free EurAsia Cup team cap. This can be redeemed on site at the EurAsia Cup at the Official Merchandise shop at Glenmarie Golf and Country Club.
The EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM is sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour. Professional Golf Malaysia (PGM) will act as the local facilitator for the event. Keep up to date with the EurAsia Cup at www.eurasiacup.com, www.facebook.com/eurasiacupgolf and @EurAsiaCupGolf.
Thongchai Jaidee (Captain, Thailand), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Thailand), Gaganjeet Bhullar (India), Nicholas Fung (Malaysia), Kim Hyung-sung (Korea,) Anirban Lahiri (India), Prayad Marksaeng (Thailand), Koumei Oda (Japan), Siddikur Rahman (Bangladesh), Hideto Tanihara (Japan).
Miguel Angel Jimenez (Captain, Spain), Thomas Bjorn (Denmark), Jamie Donaldson (Wales),
Victor Dubuisson (France), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Spain), Stephen Gallacher (Scotland), Pablo Larrazabal (Spain), Joost Luiten (Netherlands), Graeme McDowell (N Ireland), Thorbjorn Olesen (Denmark).