EURASIA CUP presented by DRB-HICOM
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
CALVIN KOH: Let’s get the proceedings started with Nicholas on my left here. You played in the first EurAsia Cup two years ago. I’m sure you have fond memories of that event, if would you share with us.
NICHOLAS FUNG: It’s a very good event for Asia, especially, because we don’t have a Ryder Cup, so this is quite new for us, and also very good for us to give us more Asian chances to compete with the good players. In the first EurAsia Cup, we managed to tie with the European, so it means Asia are also excellent.
CALVIN KOH: Kiradech, you played in the first EurAsia Cup two years ago, and since then, you’ve improved as a player, as well. When you share with us what has happened since two years ago?
KIRADECH APHIBARNRAT: I’ve been playing good golf last year and the last two years. Talking about the EurAsia Cup, it’s good fun. I think it’s one of the best events of the team events that we play.
Two years ago was great. The way we come back after the first round is incredible. We showed we are strong enough. We had the teams, and as you can see this year-players have become stronger the past two years, because we are strong enough. And if we perform as well as we have last two years, we are going to be so tough to take the whole team away from us.
CALVIN KOH: Anirban, many congratulations for winning The Asian Tour Order of Merit. It has been a spectacular season for you, especially last year. You played in the inaugural EurAsia Cup. Talk about how sensational that was for you.
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: I think the first EurAsia Cup we had was a critical event for Asian golf. If you compare the teams, whether it’s the European Team or the Asian Team, there’s been so much improvement, especially on the Asian side. Kiradech and me were part of that team; Nicholas, of course, as well. And then some of us who have learned and kicked on from that experience, and if you look at the Asian Team now, we have — I think we have five or six people who are in the Top 60 in the world, and that was not the case; there was only one of us. There was only Thongchai. That tells you that Asian golf has kicked on and has gotten stronger over the last two years, and the EurAsia Cup is one of those events that has helped it on its way.
So for me personally, it was a very important event. I think it was the beginning of me gaining a little more confidence, a little more momentum, and you know, my personal performance on the last two days, Saturday and Sunday, really helped myself believe in myself. I’ve taken that over the last 34 months, and obviously it’s been fantastic for me.
CALVIN KOH: K.T., although this is your first EurAsia Cup, but you’ve definitely played in The Presidents Cup in 2011, so you had experience on a team, as well, so you’re probably very excited to see up on Friday.
K.T. KIM: There’s a lot of great European Tour players this year, but so has Asia. With all of the experience from the team play in the past, we’ll put that to a great advantage this year and I’ll try my best.
Q. What do you think of the opposition this time around, and what do you think of the — in terms of your ability to match them, would you like to comment on that?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: I think the first really good sign is that Europe has sent a much stronger team. So what does that tell you? It tells you that we are strong enough and they are not going to take any chances. They thought they would send a B Street team and roll over us and that didn’t happen. That raised a lot of eyebrows.
But among us, I think we were very confident that we were strong enough. Yes, there were a lot of doubts after that first day, but I think we showed our character with how we played.
Moving on, obviously two years later, I think the Asian Team is a lot stronger than it was two years back. So if the Europeans have sent a stronger team, it’s because they know that we are stronger, as well.
Having said that, I still think that we are going to be underdogs going into the event, which is a good thing for us, because I think it puts more pressure on Europe to win. If they send more players who have got Ryder Cup experience, match-play experience, and they still can’t beat us, it’s going to send some tremors down The Ryder Cup Team.
So our job here is to play our best and to get 12 and a half points and I think the entire team believes that we can do that.
Q. Can you just share, how is the atmosphere in the Team Asia room right now and if Jeev has given you any advice ahead of the Friday opening match?
NICHOLAS FUNG: We have talked a little bit about the format of the team but I think Jeev wanted to see the conditions and green speed and things. We are not really focused on the team right now, maybe end of the day. But it will be a secret I think just going to keep until the first day and surprise the Europe team.
Q. Is there a difference in the captaincy in terms of the approach to the game from the experience with Thongchai, and now it’s Jeev; is there any difference in the way they approach the game?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: I think Thongchai did a fantastic job two years back, because the difference between now and then, I won’t say Jeev and Thongchai. The difference between the EurAsia Cup 2014 and 2016 is that we have a non-playing captain. So what Thongchai did two years back was beyond commendable, to play and captain is probably harder than anything else.
Having said that, I think it’s fantastic to have Jeev at the helm. He’s had a lot of experience. He’s played in a lot of team formats. He knows all of us. He knows the players who are coming in from Japan and Korea, as well.
So he brings with him a lot of experience, and apart from that, obviously he’s spent a lot more time thinking about his captaincy, because he doesn’t have to think about playing right now. I think that’s the biggest difference between then and now.
I think all of us are very, very happy that he’s there. And he’s kind of like a father figure, he gets all of us under his wing. He comes and talks to us and wants to know what we want and what makes us comfortable and to play with our strengths, which is I think the greatest job of a captain is to nurture his team, and he does that really well.
You know, hopefully he can do it more in the future.
Q. Nicholas, how important will be the matches on Friday, considering what happened two years ago with Team Europe and the foursomes?
NICHOLAS FUNG: Yeah, after the first day, we tried to take as much points as we can. Try to, if possible, to win like five, six games, that’s good, but it’s not easy. We tried our best to get the right partner, the right team, to take a lead on the first day. That’s very important for us.
Q. You played in The Presidents Cup in Australia several years ago. What do you think that you can bring from that experience in Australia that you can share with this Team Asia to try and win the EurAsia Cup?
K.T. KIM: I believe that the fourball matches are most important. In the second round, I’m sure Jeev will pick the best matches for the individuals and just focus on trying to do the best, as well.
CALVIN KOH: Anirban and Kiradech, on a personal level, both of you guys have won titles in Malaysia before; I’m sure coming back to this country gives you incentive and motivation to do even better.
KIRADECH APHIBARNRAT: Yeah, every time I have been back to Malaysia, I feel it’s like home. A lot of support, a lot of friends over here, and I’ve always done well here. We will try to do everything to protect the trophy.
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: Yeah, obviously it’s been a great association with Malaysia. We’ve had a lot of success here, not just me personally. But I really enjoy coming here. I think golf has also grown quite a bit in Malaysia over the last two or three years, especially with this event.
I would really want to have a 13th member on the golf course with us, which is the crowd, which is the people of KL, the people of Malaysia. You’ve got for the first time, there’s two Malaysians on our team. Come out and support us, support your boys, and we are also your boys. We need you. It makes us feel the advantage of being at home, and that’s going to make a big difference come Sunday.
Q. Nicholas, you and Danny together, you’ll be the two Malaysians this week, it won’t give you, I won’t say pressure, but motivation to really do well, as well.
NICHOLAS FUNG: Yeah, it’s good to have two Malaysians this team, because all the time, he’s my mentor. He teaches me a lot how to stay competent on the golf course, and of course I’m very happy to have two Malaysians, and we have more supporters, more crowd decide to come out and support our Team Asia.
CALVIN KOH: Good luck, Team Asia and we hope to see you win the first point on Friday.