EURASIA CUP presented by DRB-HICOM
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
THE MODERATOR: We welcome from Team Asia, Byeonghun An, last year’s European Tour Rookie of the Year; Team Asia’s vice captain, Liang Wen-Chong; and S.S.P. Chawrasia, three-time winner in Asia, and Shingo Katayama, nine-time winner in Japan.
Thank you for joining us today. Can you just start off by telling us the atmosphere in Team Asia’s room, and today you got to see some players practise, as well. Just tell us your thoughts on what happened today.
LIANG WEN-CHONG: I think this course is very good. It’s in very good condition, and the course is not very long. The distance is good for the Asian players. I trust the Asian team. I think the Asian team can play very well in the next few days.
THE MODERATOR: Wang, you enjoyed a good season on The Asian Tour and this is your first year playing the EurAsia Cup. Tell us your thoughts preparing Team Asia for the first time.
JEUNGHUN WANG: Playing for the first time in the EurAsia Cup, first off, I’m very honoured and also very confident. I feel that there’s no need to be nervous because our team is very solid this year. I’ll just try to do my best.
THE MODERATOR: Moving on to Ben, it’s your first time playing after a great year on The European Tour. Talk a little about the experience of being here this week.
BYEONGHUN AN: So far, it’s been great. My teammates are really nice. In the team room, there are a lot of laughs, smiles, and especially Captain Jeev, he’s been really nice to us. I really like it. I love the atmosphere in the team room. I’m enjoying it a lot so far, and I’m sure I will more until Sunday.
THE MODERATOR: S.S.P., this is your first time playing. Tell us about the experience so far for you.
S.S.P. CHAWRASIA: This is my first time in this event. I’m very excited and I’m playing very good this year and last year. So hopefully I’m doing well this week. That’s my goal.
THE MODERATOR: Shingo, welcome to the EurAsia Cup. You played a practise round today. Just talk a bit about the golf course and what you think about the course.
SHINGO KATAYAMA: It’s my first time playing today. I felt very thick rough, very narrow fairways and the greens are small, so you have to hit the fairway, they are very tight.
Q. After the fantastic year that you had in Europe last year, and especially towards the end of the year when you played well in almost every tournament, did it ever feel like this year should not end?
BYEONGHUN AN: I couldn’t hear the last part.
Q. Did you feel the year should not end? Are you feeling bad that 2015 has ended for you?
BYEONGHUN AN: Well, especially the last couple events, I think I played six events out of seven, so that’s a lot. And especially the last two events in South Africa and Thailand, I wasn’t sure what I was doing on the course. I wasn’t hitting it well but definitely somehow I scored really well. To be honest, after Thailand, I was like, I want to go home.
I think it’s very important to have the momentum going every single week, and I believe in my belief and that I will do well next week and starting this week. Might not be as good as last year, but we’ll see what happens at the end of the year.
Q. Especially for someone like you, such a global player, in the sense that you spend most of your time on The European Tour; you spent most of your years growing up in America. How do you make yourself feel like part of the Asian Team? Did you have to really think something different when you came this week? Can you talk about that?
BYEONGHUN AN: Well, I played in Europe most, but I grew up in Korea and I played a couple of events in Asia, as well, and a lot of Korean Tour events in Asia and played a couple times in Korea. All I have to get used to, it’s the same for everywhere, you’re playing different courses every week and you have to get used to it, same as this week.
I think I’m more confident on bermudagrass because where I live in Orlando it’s very similar to here and the weather is very similar. They are the same golfers; they are all good golfers, so it’s not like I have to get used to who I’m playing well.
Especially the team, it’s definitely good to know the team, but the last couple days and even today was great to know them and see their games. I love playing with them, so it’s really fun. I’m looking forward to it.
Q. As vice captain, how will you be assisting Captain Jeev?
LIANG WEN-CHONG: It’s my pleasure and my honour to be a vice captain and to assist Captain Jeev. I think every day, I will discuss details with Jeev and watch our players and the European players to see how they are playing and give my advice. I will try my best and do everything I can do to help my team.
Q. If you don’t mind me asking, how exactly do they communicate? I mean, you speak Chinese. (Laughter).
LIANG WEN-CHONG: Actually, I can speak some simple English, so no problem in communication, don’t worry.
Q. Is this your first time playing a team match-play event?
SHINGO KATAYAMA: I played in Japan against Asia before, the Dynasty Cup.
Q. This must be something different you this time.
SHINGO KATAYAMA: I’m only here for just a day, so I don’t know much about the team yet. But at the moment, I really enjoy to be part of a team, having fun, and a lot of people from different countries get together and that’s really fantastic. I’m excited.
Q. A question for all of them, really. How much match-play practise have you had in the last 12 months? Do you think you have enough time to maximise match play, as opposed to stroke play? Anyone, or all of you, the same question.
S.S.P. CHAWRASIA: When we play a practise round, we play fourballs. So you’re used to fourballs. So I don’t think there’s any problem.
The only problem I think is foursomes, which I practiced the last couple of weeks at my home with friends. I don’t think I have a problem with anyone.
BYEONGHUN AN: Well, I don’t have any problem. It’s simple, you have to hit it close, hit the fairway, make putts. It doesn’t change. I think foursomes definitely can give advice between the players, and I think it helps even.
So you have two or four people reading the same putt, which definitely helps. You can’t really prepare for this foursomes. You play events every week, stroke-play events, and, well, just have to hit it close and leave easier shots, easier putts for your partners. That’s my goal this week.
Q. This question could be for anyone, any of the others, if you can understand English or can be translated. So many different country, so many different languages and so many different kinds of food in the dining room, and you’re all playing the same game, is this an exciting time? How difficult and how easy is it for everybody to understand, even though golf is the common goal for all of you?
BYEONGHUN AN: You have practise rounds to communicate with the players, especially foursomes, having to play holes like that, and even though we speak different language or have different foods, but still, it’s golf.
Can’t really show anything in the team room but in the course, definitely, because you play golf — you know what the golf is. You know who you’re playing with and you have kind of a feeling who you’re playing with, and you probably know in the team room and you talk about it and talk about how you’re going to play.
We’ve still got two more days to talk about, so I don’t think there’s any problems with eating different food or speaking a different language.
S.S.P. CHAWRASIA: Yes, we know each other for a very long time, so we don’t have a problem. We discuss how to play. Obviously the captain called me and the captain is also helping us. It’s good.
The MODERATOR: So when you go to the dining table, do you head for Indian food or do you go for Chinese?
S.S.P. CHAWRASIA: When I’m home, obviously I eat Indian food, so when I’m outside, I like to eat a different type of food.
Q. Playing a big tournament and a team tournament for the first time in your career, how important has been the role of somebody like Jeev, whom you know so well, being the captain, and what have you guys discussed? And also, can you tell us what kind of role he has played in your development as a golfer, being from India, as well?
S.S.P. CHAWRASIA: Honestly, Jeev, obviously a senior player, so we just follow Jeev. So whatever he says, we are just following, everyone. So I think we are everyone very comfortable. So I don’t think there’s any problem.
Q. What has he meant to you, as somebody who comes from India and what has he done in your career, helped you?
S.S.P. CHAWRASIA: Oh, yeah, Jeev honestly helped my a lot when I started The European Tour. He guided me on everything, like sponsor, also. He helped me a lot.
Q. The last time you were here, you had a back problem. Is that okay?
S.S.P. CHAWRASIA: Yeah, I’m fine now.
Q. With this being a competition of Europe and Asia, and in the background there’s talk of the two tours merging; is anybody prepared to offer their opinions, perhaps from the standpoint of the advantages it can bring to Asian players in terms of development, or their residence visions — anyone want to take that one on?
BYEONGHUN AN: I want more Korean food. That’s what I’m thinking. (Laughter).
To be honest, I don’t really think about it. I just play my golf every single week, and especially this week, you know, I never thought about it, and I don’t know anything about it to be honest. Just trying to play golf. That’s my job.
S.S.P. CHAWRASIA: We are here for the first time, so we don’t really think about it.
Q. Team Asia has six players ranked in the Top 50 in the world and I think Europe has six players ranked in the Top 60 in the world. Would that make them the slight favourites, or how do you feel you guys would do this week? Do you feel you have a chance to win this week?
SHINGO KATAYAMA: No, but I know what’s going to happen. The last time we tied. Well, I didn’t join the last tournament, the last competition, but we’ll see.
Q. What about the rest of you, I think some of you may not have known Jeev; so what do you think of him as a captain?
BYEONGHUN AN: I talked to Jeev a lot because he played The European Tour last year. Really fun guy to play with. I always enjoy playing with him. So I guess I know him pretty well.
Q. What has he been like as a captain?
BYEONGHUN AN: As a captain, definitely, he’s a good captain. As soon as I got here, I felt really comfortable. I felt like at home, I guess. He’s trying to make us comfortable any way he can, and every time he’ll tell us first or ask us first, how are you feeling, and he says, ask any questions if you want. I think it’s a really good thing.
That’s how people, not necessarily me, but kind of shy and not talking at first, I think it’s good for him to ask us first if we have any problems. I really like him as a captain, yes, and as a person and a friend, yes.
SHINGO KATAYAMA: I’ve known Jeev for a long time. I’ve been playing the Japan Tour and I know him from always playing in tournaments, consecutively, always on the road.
As the captain, he’s very kind and helpful, and I’m very happy to have him as a captain.
Q. I’d like to ask, what’s at stake for you guys in terms of winning or losing here in terms of, say, bragging rights against the Europeans? How do you feel — how do you feel this will — what the Asian game can do, if you guys win, for example?
JEUNGHUN WANG: I think this week, we have a good chance to win, because before last year, The Asian Tour and The European Tour have a tie. So today, even the World Ranking is different, because most of the Europe players, they are within the Top-50, and most of the Asian players, they are within 100. But this week, it’s just one day, two days, everything can happen. Especially, we have a very good captain. He’s very familiar with all the players. Every time he will ask the opinions from the players about the pairing.
And the weather, it’s very hot, so it’s good for Thai players and for the other players. Yeah, I think we can do well in the next few days.
As we can see in the past few years, a lot of Asian players have played well at the PGA Tour and The European Tour. Especially we have a lot of elite players here, like Ben, like other young players, and most of us, we have a good rest after last season. So it’s our advantage and this is our host venue in Asia, and yeah, we think we have a great chance.
Q. How about the ramifications for the future? What will this say about Asian golf in you’re able to win? Do you feel like you have something to prove? What would it mean for the Asian game?
JEUNGHUN WANG: Yes, there’s a lot of Asian players, they can learn from The European Tour players, but it’s the same, The European Tour players, they can learn from our players. A game like this, the players, they can learn from each other, and it’s good.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us.