EURASIA CUP presented by DRB-HICOM
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Jeev Milkha Singh
CHUAH CHOO CHIANG: Very good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club for the second edition of the EurAsia Cup 2016 presented by DRB-HICOM.
With us this afternoon are the team captains from Asia, Europe on your right in red, captain of Team Asia, Jeev Milkha Singh, and with us, as well, Darren Clarke of Team Europe, captain.
Let’s just get things kicking off and running. Jeev, let’s start off with a question for you. You’ve been here since yesterday and your players have already checked in. How is the mood in the team room at this early stage of the week?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: I’m really excited about this week. I’m happy the way the teams turned out. The golf course is in excellent condition. Players are in good spirits. I think that’s what we need from our players, and looking forward to this week.
CHUAH CHOO CHIANG: Thanks, Darren. Move on to Darren. Darren, you’ve had a month of planning and preparation since being announced as captain of Team Europe. How are the players and yourself looking forward to the second edition of the EurAsia Cup?
DARREN CLARKE: Obviously they are excited about this week, like Jeev said about his team. We’re both here to win. Six of my guys got in either yesterday afternoon or late last night. They played this morning. The course, as Jeev just said, the course was in great shape this morning. A few more guys came in this afternoon and Poults is getting in late tonight, so he’ll be a little bit jet-lagged tomorrow.
Last time was very, very exciting and I’m sure with both teams we have, it’s going to be exactly the same again. Hopefully making lots of birdies and we entertain everybody that comes to watch.
Q. Win or lose, what is this Cup going to do for golf in the world?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: I feel golf is a global sport in today’s day and age, and I think having an event like this, I think it’s a big boost for golf worldwide, because we watch that Europe and Asia are very close to each other, we have a lot of co-sanctioned events and we’ve had that for many years.
And the good part is that the top players are playing with each other. They know each other’s games, and what happens with that is the Asian players can build their confidence and they know that they are playing on the big stage and the world stage, and from there, they can move on and follow their dream, whether it’s the European Tour or the U.S. tour.
DARREN CLARKE: Exactly what Jeev is saying. The European Tour, we’ve had The Ryder Cup for a long time, and you know, certainly for a natural progression with how supportive the Asian Tour have been of The European Tour for a long, long time, and to have a tournament like this match-play tournament, which we don’t have many of, it gives the Asian guys the ability to show the world how good they are.
Looking at the team this week, they have got a very, very strong team. Match play, it’s a different format for us because we don’t play it too often. We played it as amateurs but not as professionals and a team event can be very, very exciting, as I’m sure you’ve all witnessed in past Ryder Cups and certainly the highlight of this week is trying to, as Jeev has said, highlight just how good of players we have and outside of America, as well. This is the perfect format to do that.
Q. On the golf course, has it been set up to both of your satisfaction?
DARREN CLARKE: Well, Jeev set it up, so I have no say in it. The course is perfect (laughing).
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: It’s in excellent condition.
Q. When you say excellent condition, what does that mean?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: That means that the greens are rolling as a speed of 10 to 11. Fairways are in good condition. There is rough, which is penalising, where if you hit it in the rough, you know you get flyers out of the rough where you can’t stop the ball on the green. Fairways are narrow. You have to make sure you hit good tee shots. That’s what I mean by the golf course is in good condition.
DARREN CLARKE: Exactly. And whilst the course may not be one of the longest that we play, certainly with the rough, as Jeev has said, the unpredictability from the rough, whether you hit a flyer or the ball comes out dead, makes being on the fairway a huge premium.
It’s match play, so you’re going to have guys that have the ability to hit it 310, 320 yards because that’s not what’s required on every hole out here, so a little bit more course management is going to be very important this week.
Q. Very early in the week, but do you have a few of how your teams are going to start shaping up on Thursday?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes, I do. I still haven’t finalised it. We’ll finalise it on Thursday evening. I’m excited about the pairings. I’m sure Darren is going to be for his team.
I think both the teams are very strong. It’s going to be fantastic to watch because there are going to be a lot of birdies out there, and I think it’s great for golf and for the people to come out and watch, and people are watching it worldwide on the television, also.
DARREN CLARKE: I didn’t know who my pairings are going to be. I’ve thought about it long and hard this past while. I’ve put a lot of work in it and a lot of the team behind it. So hopefully my choice are going to be proven correct, we shall see. Barring any last-minute changes, I’m pretty set on what I’m going to do. I don’t know what order I’m going to put them out, but I do know.
Q. Are you looking possibly at pairing nationality-wise?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Not really, I’m going to mix them up, to give you an honest answer, to see how it goes. But maybe I could change my mind, I’m not 100 per cent sure, but most probably going to mix them up.
Q. Talking about what this means for Europe and Asia, for Asia to show they can play with the big boys; how does that play into the thinking of the proposed merger? Do you have any concerns about the merger on your own side, Jeev, or if not yourself, what are you hearing from players who may be concerned? What are they thinking?
DARREN CLARKE: I don’t know if that’s a fair question. We’re here to talk about the EurAsia Cup this week, not the politics about what’s are going on. We’re here to enjoy the competition and to enjoy the EurAsia Cup. I think that’s a question for another. I think that’s a very unfair question to ask Jeev at this point.
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: I think Darren’s right. I think let’s keep it there because right now we haven’t decided anything.
Q. Your team has a strong British flavour to it. I’ve asked Jeev this question a couple weeks ago. Do you think the British guys are important to your team’s success this week?
DARREN CLARKE: Yes, there is quite a few British guys on the team, but everybody had an opportunity to qualify for the team. Just so happens this year that a lot of the British guys have played really well and are an addition on the team.
With us, yes, Europe, we are different nationalities but we are all here as one team. The fact that there is so many British doesn’t make any difference. We’re here as Europe.
Q. How much of this week is — how do you approach this week? Is it more Ryder Cup with back of your mind or is it for EurAsia Cup?
DARREN CLARKE: No, it’s EurAsia Cup. Obviously there’s no Ryder Cup stuff going on in the back of my mind with possible pairings, but first and foremost, it’s this week. We as Europe, we’re here to try and win, as Jeev is, with his Asian team. The thoughts and everything I’m trying to do is going towards this week.
When we’re finished this week, then obviously —- if we come back with a few pairings and what happened during the week, hopefully if I’ve learned something from this week come September, then so be it. First and foremost, it’s definitely this week and the EurAsia Cup.
Q. What are the chances of a draw again?
DARREN CLARKE: I think that’s a pretty good chance. You you have two very strong teams. Anything could happen. Hopefully it will be every bit as exciting. I don’t know how our nerves will be at the end of the week. We shall see.
Q. What would you like to say to Jeev and vice versa?
DARREN CLARKE: I don’t think I need to tell Jeev anything. He’s as old and wily as I am; nearly as old as I am. I’ve known Jeev for a very long time and I have no doubt he will prepare his team and give them as much help as he possibly can to perform their best, and likewise, I will do the same for The European Team.
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: I think what Darren said is right. That’s what we’re trying to do, trying to make sure the best comes out of the players, and Darren has got a lot of experience. You will see them, they are two good teams. It’s going to be a good week to watch and it’s going to be some good golf shots hit and a lot of birdies made out there.
Q. What are you guys telling the players at the start of this week that was so critical last time around?
DARREN CLARKE: There’s not much we can really tell the guys. At this stage, the guys are here — certainly the guys coming from the European side that are still jet-lagged and pretty tired. Some of the guys practised in Dubai last week, and letting a few of the guys on the European Team get acclimatised a little bit.
We are playing in the Asian Team’s backyard. They are a bit more used to the heat and humidity than we are, but the guys are just relaxing and getting used to it. We are going to play foursomes tomorrow in the practise round and come Thursday, things will probably get a little more serious at that stage.
I think it’s just letting them relax and enjoy themselves at the moment.
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yeah, like Darren said, these guys are experienced. They don’t need to be told anything. We just want to make sure that they are comfortable, they are happy, they stay positive, and stay relaxed and as the week starts, their focus is going to come back and they are going to try to give their best as the week starts.
Q. It’s been quite hot here lately, in Asia, humidity is always a problem; Darren just referenced that. What about any special strategies?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Just stay hydrated.
DARREN CLARKE: Drink lots of water. When the humidity comes with this sort of heat, it is quite oppressive. But the Europeans, with the co-sanctioned events we do have in Asia, we do have experience playing here. But it feels even hotter than the last time we were here. Just drink lots of fluids.
Q. Given the relative inexperience of Team Asia in team golf, and you as a captain, obviously your first time, what is the most challenging aspect for you being captain?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: There’s no challenge. I would say it’s an honor that I’ve become the captain of the Asian Team, and I believe in our players. I know that all of them have the experience. They are used to the weather. They have played in Asia many times. They play on The Asian Tour. They play these kind of courses.
So I just basically have to make sure they are comfortable, happy, and relaxed. That’s when a player, when all of these things are given to him, he plays the best. Just tell them to give their best and that’s it. And I can’t even have to tell them that, because they are going to give 100, 200 per cent. Basically keep them happy and relaxed and see how the week turns out.
CHUAH CHOO CHIANG: We’ll conclude the press conference. Jeev and Darren, thanks very much for your time.