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Captain Atwal names dynamic young team for EurAsia Cup

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Team Asia Captain Arjun Atwal has announced a young and immensely talented team for the EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM with current Order of Merit leader Gavin Green, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, S.S.P. Chawrasia and Li Hao-tong representing Asia.

Thai teenager Phachara Khongwatmai, Poom Saksansin, Malaysia’s Green and India’s Chawrasia make up the leading four Asian players on the Order of Merit who qualified for Team Asia in the biennial event which will be played at Glenmarie Golf and Country Club from January 12 to 14, 2018.

Yuta Ikeda of Japan, ranked 37th on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), Li of China, Anirban Lahiri of India, the 2015 Asian Tour number one, and Kiradech of Thailand all earned their spot in Team Asia as the leading available Asians on the world ranking.

Korea’s Byeonghun An, who represented Team Asia in the second edition in 2016, will make his return to the team after being selected as a captain’s pick. Joining him as a captain’s wildcard are Hideto Tanihara of Japan and Nicholas Fung of Malaysia who will make their third appearance in the EurAsia Cup. Sunghoon Kang of Korea, a winner on the Asian Tour, will make his debut after being selected as the final captain’s pick.

Team Asia will have a combined total of 58 titles won worldwide while six players in the 12-man team are still in their 20s. Phachara is the youngest at 18 and Tanihara is the oldest at 39.

“I’m proud to announce my team which is predominantly represented by young players. Most of them are still in their 20s but they have achieved huge success at a young age and have established themselves in the game,” said Atwal.

“Seven players in my team are ranked inside the top-100 on the Official World Golf Ranking and this underlines the strength of Team Asia. This is a strong team and it will be our goal to win the EurAsia Cup.”

“We will face a strong Team Europe but I have faith in every member in my team. I’ve already mapped out a game plan to keep the players motivated and battle-ready when the tournament starts,” said Atwal.

The 23-year-old Green will represent Team Asia for the first time after a splendid 2017 season where he won his first Asian Tour title and finished runner-up three times.

“It is always nice playing in front of the home crowd. The EurAsia Cup is a huge thing and it is a totally different ball game as compared to a stroke-play event. It is a team event and everyone gathers like a big family. I hope a lot of Malaysian fans come out and support Team Asia,” said Green.

China’s Li will also make his first appearance in the team event, dubbed the ‘Ryder Cup of the East’. The supremely talented Chinese holds one victory on the European Tour and is currently ranked 57th in the world thanks to a third-place result at The Open.

Ikeda, the highest ranked player in Team Asia, has enjoyed a remarkable season in Japan where he won thrice while Kiradech is also coming off a solid 2017 where he finished second at the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Champions and Italian Open.

Atwal will also rely on the experience of countrymen Lahiri, who represented Team Asia in the last two editions and Chawrasia who successfully defended the Hero Indian Open earlier this year.

“The knowledge of playing in team match-play is crucial and the experience of players like Lahiri, Chawrasia, An and Kiradech will be very important in the team. It is a nice mix of experienced and new players which have huge potential,” said Atwal.

Poom qualified for the team through the Order of Merit thanks to one victory and a runner-up result in Japan. The fearless Phachara, a two-time runner-up in 2017, is another new addition to team alongside Kang, who also finished second twice in the United States this year.

China’s Zhang Lian-wei has also been picked as Vice-Captain by Atwal to help him lead Team Asia against Thomas Bjorn’s Team Europe.

The EurAsia Cup will feature 24 matches, with day one showcasing six Fourball matches, followed by six Foursomes matches and 12 Singles matches on the third day.

Team Europe will feature Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Paul Casey, Paul Dunne, Ross Fisher, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Alex Levy, Alex Noren, Thomas Pieters, Henrik Stenson and Bernd Wiesberger.

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