Thai veteran star Thongchai Jaidee, young Filipino talent Miguel Tabuena, Wu Ashun of China, Korea’s Byeonghun An and Hideki Matsuyama of Japan have committed to play in the 58th edition of the World Cup of Golf which will feature a world-class and diverse field of 28 two-man teams at Kingston Heath Golf Club in Melbourne from November 24 to 27.
Asia’s top golfers will play for national pride as they represent their countries in the World Cup of Golf which will revert to its previous format where the two members of each team will combine in the fourball and foursomes format in Australia. Defending champions Australia will be represented by world number one Jason Day and Adam Scott.
While the highest-ranked players from their respective countries have officially qualified and committed to the World Cup of Golf, players have until August 26 to choose their playing partner. Some players have opted to do so already, while others will take their time in deciding their teammate.
Thongchai, the only man to win three Asian Tour Order of Merit titles, said: “I’m looking forward to playing in my fifth World Cup of Golf in Melbourne. With the tournament reverting to a combined team format, I believe it will be very exciting for players and I hope to put up a strong showing with my partner, whom I will announce later.
“My best finish at the World Cup of Golf was tied seventh in 2008 (with Prayad Marksaeng) and it will be fantastic if I can help Thailand improve on that performance and contend for the prestigious trophy. It is always very special to represent Thailand and with a list of past World Cup champions that include legendary names like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, it will be wonderful if Thailand can rise to the occasion. I will be trying my best as we don’t get too many opportunities to represent Thailand in a team competition.”
Tabuena, 21, is excited to make his first appearance in the World Cup of Golf. He won his first Asian Tour victory at his national Open last December, earned his Major debut at the U.S. Open in June and featured in the recent Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“It’s so cool that I have earned the opportunity to represent the Philippines in my first World Cup of Golf and I’m looking forward to competing in Kingston Heath. My season has come along really nicely with my first ever Major appearance at the U.S. Open followed by my participation at the Olympic Games.
“To now earn the chance to represent the Philippines at the World Cup of Golf is truly meaningful and it shows that my career is moving in the right direction. The World Cup of Golf has a wonderful history and I hope to represent my country well in Australia and bring honour back home with a strong showing alongside my partner, whom I will choose before the deadline. This will inspire me to keep working hard at my game.”
China’s Wu, who was victorious in Austria on the European Tour in June, has fond memories of his World Cup of Golf debut in Melbourne three years ago. He said: “It is fantastic that I will be heading back to Melbourne to represent China in the World Cup of Golf as it was there that I made my tournament debut in 2013. I enjoyed my time in Royal Melbourne and I look forward to playing well at Kingston Heath.
“Professional golfers rarely have a chance to represent our countries in team golf tournaments as on most weeks, we compete as individuals on Tour. There is a lot of history behind the World Cup of Golf and I remember that China has hosted the prestigious event on several occasions. It will mean a lot to me and also for golf in China if my partner and I can put up a strong showing at Kingston Heath. We will be doing our best as we are fighting for our country instead for ourselves.”
Korea’s An, who also participated in the Olympic Games last week, is looking forward to representing his country in his first World Cup of Golf appearance. “It’s always great and I take pride in representing our country. There will be a little less pressure than the Olympics, but it is definitely an event that I want to play well in. It will be my first time playing in Australia. I remember watching the Presidents Cup in Australia and thinking that I hope to play in Australia some day.”
Top-ranked Day and the world’s seventh-ranked Scott will reunite to defend the World Cup of Golf title for Australia following their popular home victory in 2013. Other leading nations who have committed to the storied tournament include England’s Lee Westwood and Danny Willet, the reigning Masters Tournament champion. American world number six Bubba Watson has also committed to the World Cup of Golf and will name his partner later.