KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Thongchai Jaidee is confident his Asia team will not be overawed by its more illustrious European opposition when the inaugural EurAsia Cup gets underway at Glenmarie Golf and Country Club on Thursday.
A three-time winner of the Asian Tour money title, Thonghchai has urged his teammates to show no fear against a team led by Miguel Angel Jimenez and containing Ryder Cup veterans Graeme McDowell and Thomas Bjorn.
"We have a very complete team and I believe we stand a good chance of winning the trophy," said Thongchai, who has won 13 titles on the Asian Tour. "Europe has a very strong team. Graeme McDowell has a good track record in match play and Miguel, with his vast experience, is a good captain. But I know our team has what it takes to win this tournament and I'm confident."
The EurAsia Cup format will be similar to the Ryder Cup, with the teams going head-to-head in the fourball format on day one, followed by foursomes on Friday and finishing with singles on Saturday.
McDowell said the new event could become an important part of Europe's buildup to the Ryder Cup.
"A tournament like this, the EurAsia Cup, to me is something that's very, very important for both the European Tour and the Asian Tour," he said. "Asia is the main area of growth for the game of golf in the world, so it's a natural place for the European Tour.
"To have a Europe versus Asia match is something that our schedule needs from a Ryder Cup point of view. We need this event to become something very special, something the guys look forward to and something that is part of Ryder Cup team building; a chance to put 10 guys together, come out here and play against a good team and try some pairings and really enjoy playing team golf."
Jimenez predicts the intercontinental event will develop in scale and importance.
"The Ryder Cup started in 1927 and probably now is 'the' event in golf," he said. "Now we start the EurAsia Cup in 2014 and hopefully with the support of the players and the effort of these two big tours, the EurAsia Cup will become a big event along with the Ryder Cup."
Besides Jimenez, McDowell and Bjorn, the European team members include Jamie Donaldson, Victor Dubuisson, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Stephen Gallacher, Pablo Larrazabal, Joost Luiten and Thorbjorn Olesen.
Team Asia members include Asian Tour No. 1 Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Prayad Marksaeng, Anirban Lahiri, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Koumei Oda, Hideto Tanihara, Kim Hyung-sung, Siddikur Rahman and Nicholas Fung.