#EurAsiaCup – What they said

Team Asia

 Q.  Kiradech, obviously you’re playing on your third EurAsia Cup, and even though you are 28, you are considered a veteran of the team here.

KIRADECH APHIBARNRAT:  Yeah, it’s a pleasure to be here again with a strong team coming everywhere from Asia and coming from the U.S., I hope my experience from the first two times will help the team.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Team Asia

Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Team Asia

Q.  Kang, you are making your debut here in the EurAsia Cup.  Your thoughts on what this very special event is?

SUNGHOO KANG:  First time playing for me in this event.  It’s an honour to be playing and representing Team Asia.  I’ll try to help the guys.

ZHANG LIAN‑WEI:  I’m here as vice captain for Team Asia, and my thoughts on the team and the week ahead is that I’m very impressed with the lineup.  We have some good firepower, and obviously playing with Kiradech and these players are certainly impressive on the world stage.  I’m very confident of Team Asia doing well this week.

Q.  A question to all of you.  Given the strength of the European Team, at the start of a tournament, do you guys even look at that, that they have the world No. 9 playing for them, do you guys even look at that or is that just out of your thoughts?

LI HAO‑TONG:  Every week, everyone ‑‑ I think that if we play well and play our best, I think big chance.

KIRADECH APHIBARNRAT:  I know there’s a lot of top players in the field this week, especially European Team.  But if the 12 of us are playing like 80 per cent of our games, it might be a tough week for them to take away the trophy from us.  Anything can really happen.  All 12 players here in the Team Asia are strong enough to play our best. When we stand on the first tee, whoever is going to be world No. 1 or world No. 2, we have to play against them.  But anything can happen.  I never look at the World Ranking, if they have won a major or whatever because I want us to win this week.

Q.  You’ve played in all three EurAsia Cups.  When you look at this team, this is probably the strongest of the three teams.  How different is it this year from the past two Cups?

KIRADECH APHIBARNRAT: There is a huge difference this year.  The first year I’ve been on the team with this event, I was nervous and excited.  I played with Thongchai and I felt like I was too young to be in a team event. But now all of us are a new generation and we are hungry.  That’s the key thing that I think the young players have the opportunity to make a lot of points because we’re hungry and we’re ready for it and the last six years that I’ve been on this event, I’ve learnt a lot.

Q.  Some of the members have played on the PGA Tour.

KIRADECH APHIBARNRAT:  Like I said, you play on the same events, if you’re not good enough, you can’t be here.  This is all the best in Asia.

Q.  You guys are playing in the EurAsia Cup for the very first time, maybe you can share what do you think will be your advantage to play with the team this week?

SUNGHOO KANG:  Yeah, I played the back nine today.  I think it’s a really fair course.  I think the European Team may hit it a little bit further, because they are bigger and taller than us.  I think this course is fitting perfectly for Team Asia because it is kind of short and you need to hit the fairways, and the rough is pretty thick so it’s going to be hard to control the greens.  Actually very that’s very familiar to the Asian Tour players, so it will be a really nice place to be actually.

Q.  Playing in the EurAsia Cup for the first time, I’m sure you must be pretty excited.  You’ve played some practise rounds already, right?

LI HAO‑TONG:  Yes, these are firm greens and you have to play smart.  You always need to keep it on the fairway.  So I think we have a lot of chance to keep a score low

Q.  What advice have you given Team Asia in the team room?

ZHANG LIAN‑WEI:  Asia is so diverse, obviously coming from all different back grounds and cultures, with you one common goal this week is we need to gel and click together and put the points on the board for Team Asia.

Q.  Kiradech, you ended the year on such a high, being inside the Top 15, going for the Masters.  How are you looking forward personally to the new year to 2018?

KIRADECH APHIBARNRAT:  The end of the year last year, I’ve been playing fantastic golf.  This is an opening event for 2018.  I was hoping to just keep playing well, get all the points to make confidence with the events coming up, especially the World Golf events and the majors, the Masters.  So the key to opening events is to be confident and be comfortable with your swing.

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Team Captains

ARJUN ATWAL:  To represent this team is truly an honour.  It’s a lot of fun.  I got to meet some of the guys that I didn’t really know that well today and everyone is having a great time in the team room, on the golf course and that’s what I want it to be like.  It’s been great.

Arjun Atwal Team Asia Captain

Arjun Atwal Team Asia Captain

CALVIN KOH:  Obviously everybody remembers you were part of the first EurAsia Cup team four years ago, which ended in a very memorable 10‑10 draw.  I’m sure you’ve seen how the event has grown over the years.  Your thoughts?

THOMAS BJÖRN:  Yeah, it is an event that is growing.  We came here with a good team and I’m excited to stand at the head of that team.  You know, we represent so much in ourselves.  As an individual golfer, you’re out there representing yourself all the time, and sometimes you lose a little bit of track of that. This week, these players represents, yeah, themselves, but they represent Europe and The European Tour and they represent their own countries.  To get a group of people together like that, you feel very quickly when you walk into a team room that there’s a different vibe about it, there’s a different feel about it.  They are very excited about being in each other’s company but also looking very much forward to Friday. So it’s a special event and I think team events are very special in that sense; that they just bring out a little bit of a different perspective on what we normally do as professional golfers. We’re happy to be here and we’re grateful to be here.  It’s been fun so far, and I’m sure it will be a memorable week for, not just for us, but for all 24 players that are here.  You build friendships and relationships across the team but also within your team that are different than the ones you have on an every day basis on Tour.

Q.  For both captains, considering that this is the third event and the final one here in Malaysia, what are your thoughts on that?

THOMAS BJÖRN: I think my thoughts in general are that this event has a great future.  I think there’s a growing relationship between Asian golf and European golf and therefore this tournament sits in a very good place. So, the tournament should continue and grow, and you know, in any great team event I think will always alternate between being played at home and away, so I think there’s a future for that, as well. But as I said, there’s nothing in golf that brings out the best in everything as team events; as the players, the fans, TV, all think that this is a wonderful event to play in and be part of. So when you have something as special as that, it’s for somebody to run with it and in between The European Tour and the Asian Tour, I’m sure that’s something that’s very much going to happen. The Ryder Cup is a special event.  The Presidents Cup is growing and growing every year, and it’s a special event in its own right.  Now here is an event that has all those potentials.  Golf in Asia is growing dramatically and the amount of players that are coming out of Asia in world golf shows where golf is going for the future, and that makes this event have a very good place in the game. So I think it’s for people to run with it, because for the players, it’s a very special event to be part of.

Q.  On paper, and that’s how every fan looks at it at the start of the tournament, you guys are clearly the underdogs in terms of World Rankings and the stature of the players in the world.  How is your role going to be in motivating your 12 players that it’s not over on Thursday or Friday?  How are you going to?

ARJUN ATWAL:  Definitely everybody knows we are underdogs, except my team.  This is the feeling that I’m giving them is that there’s no sure thing in match‑play golf.  You can be underdogs on paper, but once the matches start, it’s not that you’re playing, you know, a four‑day stroke‑play event, you’re just trying to beat the opponents that you’re playing. I’m trying to get them to think of  their matches.  Just you handle yourselves and everything else will be okay.  That’s the way I look at it, and I told them to go out and have fun. I think  that is what Europe has done well and it shows in The Ryder Cup, is that they look like they are having fun because they are having fun. I, personally, whenever I’m in a good place in my life and I’m having fun playing golf, I usually play my best, and I think that’s kind of true for most people.  Maybe not Tiger Woods because he’s always intense, but I’m just saying, that’s what I’m bringing to my team.

Q.  Can I ask, Thomas, the same, if I just put the same question to you, knowing that you know you haven’t got a set of players who have been playing match play who have been so good in team events, and knowing that another very important event is coming up for you, what do you talk to players about at the beginning of the tournament, and how much of a dress rehearsal is this going to be for The Ryder Cup?

Thomas Bjorn Team Europe Captain

Thomas Bjorn Team Europe Captain

THOMAS BJÖRN:  Well, if it’s a test for The Ryder Cup, I think we’ll have problems, because that’s a disrespect to what this team is and what the other team is.  We’re very well aware that Asia has never fielded a stronger team than they did this time, and golf is a strange game.  Whatever it says on the paper very rarely comes out on top. So, those 12 players in that room are very well aware that they have got to go out and play golf this week.  This is not going to come to them easy, and they are up for it.  I think the commitment from the players early on, wanting to play in this event, shows where European golf is.  There’s an excitement about representing Europe.  That’s something that says a lot about those 12 players in there.  They want to win.  I don’t need to sit there and explain to them that they have got to go out and try to win this and disrespect their opponent, because we never do.  We never have and we never will. We go out and play golf, and we play as hard as we can.  And they know that.  So there is no ‑‑ they are not taking this easy at all.  I feel like when I look at them, that they have seen a lot of things happen and they know, in the game of golf, over 18 holes, anything can happen. Those 12 players are standing on the other side, they are very good and they are very talented and there’s a lot of young players on that Asian Team that are coming through and going to do great things in the game of golf, and we’re not going to beat them easily.  We’re very well aware what we are up against.

Q.  Arjun, this is the first time you’re going to be the captain of a team.  How does it feel, and obviously this is a European Team which is getting ready for The Ryder Cup, which is going to be a much bigger contest, so how do you feel that about this Team Asia?

ARJUN ATWAL:  I feel kind of young, you know, to be a captain honestly speaking.  I was kind of surprised they asked me. But I feel really honoured.  Like I said before, that I am the captain of the Asian Team, and I know most of these guys, and the few that I didn’t, I got to meet them today.  And this whole bunch that I’ve had in my team room is a lot of fun to be around. So, I’m really enjoying it.  You know, personally, I’m loving every single minute of it, and I don’t have to hit a golf shot.  So that’s even a bonus.

Q.  In terms of preparation, can you run us through what you’ve done?

ARJUN ATWAL:  Nothing really.  I asked every player who they wanted to play with.  I kind of had an idea before.  Made a couple of tweaks with my pairings today for practise rounds and let them out and let them have fun, basically, I wanted to make sure that every player is happy with who they are playing with, and if not, they come and talk to me and we can go from there.  But as a strategy, there’s really nothing.  Just go out there and look at the golf course and have fun with each other.

Q.  Your first time as captain and in a team match‑play event, have you spoken to anybody or tried to say, like, Jeev, or Tiger, for example, a good friend of yours, have you spoken to any of them to get some kind of inspiration or idea.

ARJUN ATWAL:  Yeah, a little while ago, just to see what to expect in this type of tournament and format.  I pretty much, you know, pick Tiger’s brain a little bit because we are really close.  I saw Davis at a range somewhere and I kind of told him that I was captaining. Just wanted to get an idea of what to deal with and what to expect.  That was all.

Q.  With a few players from the Japanese Tour, the PGA Tour, the Asian, and you also have played on most of these tours.  How does that help you in terms of understanding the people you are going to be leading this week?

ARJUN ATWAL:  That’s a good question.  I think when I played the Asian Tour, it wasn’t quite as deep as what it is now.  So to understand these younger players that are coming out of the Asian Tour, to see how good they really are, it’s amazing.  I mean, to compare when we were playing Jeev, myself, Thongchai, back in the early Asian Tour days, I mean, the Asian Tour has grown, a lot, since then. You know, you look at the cuts, you look at winning scores, you look at these young guys; I’ve got an 18‑year‑old kid on my team, Phachara.  He’s almost young enough to be my son.  So it’s amazing. But my point is it’s hard for me to go back to my Asian Tour days to compare these Asian Tour players.  They are a lot, lot better.  So I think that they are just as good as any players on any tour.  They just haven’t stepped out of the Asian Tour yet. The European Tour players, yeah, they are phenomenal, as well.  Byeonghun An and Sung Kang playing on the PGA Tour, they have done fantastic.  I don’t know how to compare these guys.  It’s just everybody is really good.  That’s the simple way to put it.

CALVIN KOH:  Thank you, Arjun, Thomas for your time.

Ends.

Team Europe

BRIONY CARLYON:  Thank you everyone for joining us here, and welcome to four of our Team Europe members for the 2018 EurAsia Cup. Going to start first and just get a few quick thoughts from a few of our rookies, and obviously Bernd has played the tournament before.  We may start with Alex and Alex Levy, both your thoughts on playing this week in Malaysia.

ALEX NOREN:  Well, I’m looking forward to it.  It’s been a nice little break, I think four weeks since I played last.  I’m looking forward to playing with these guys.  They are all very nice guys.  It was a while ago since I played a team event.  Obviously it’s very different.  As an amateur you play team events all the time, but now it doesn’t happen very often.  So, looking forward to that.

ALEX LEVY:  Yeah, really excited about that.  It’s my first time playing in a team event since I turned professional.  I’m really excited to play on this team.

BRIONY CARLYON:  Paul, as well, you’ve played on a winning team on four occasions in your match‑play as an amateur, can you give us your thoughts on this week?

PAUL DUNNE: I was coming into the last half of the year with this being a big goal of mine to make the team, and so I’m delighted that I’m here and hopefully we can have a good week.  I’m excited to play and happy with everybody on the team.  Hopefully we all play well and make it to all five international events.

BRIONY CARLYON:  Bernd, you’ve been here before and played the course.  Perhaps your thoughts on last time and what you learned from that looking ahead to this week?

BERND WIESBERGER:  Yeah, I’m really excited to be part of this team.  As Paul said, it was a big goal of mine, as well, to be part of that 12‑man team.  I think we brought a lot of quality guys here not only on the golf course but also off the course. It’s obviously nice to have a team atmosphere and play for European flags.  I think everybody on the team will agree they are looking forward to this week.  For me, it’s nice to return.  We had a really good week then and I’m sure we’re just going to try to match that.

Q.  Can I ask for all four of you, obviously you guys had a break and it is cold in Europe.  What kind of preparations do you guys do?  I know humidity is not much of a problem, but do you have to adjust from coming from that cold to this heat?

ALEX NOREN:  Well, I’ve been in Dubai a few days before this and then I was in Sweden.  Sweden is very cold. But it’s more of a joy to be out of the cold, and obviously the best temperature is maybe 25 degrees and not this much humidity.  But I think it’s a lot better than the cold, so that’s nice.

BRIONY CARLYON:  Alex and Bernd, you’ve both won European events on Asian soil.  Perhaps your thoughts on that?

ALEX LEVY:  No, I like when it’s hot.  I prefer that than when it’s cold.  I don’t like to play in England or Scotland.  It’s too cold there.  But to move my big body, I need to play in warm weather. I took some time last week in Dubai to prepare for this week, but it’s true, to come from cold weather to hot weather, is not really easy.

BERND WIESBERGER:  For me, I was in Dubai for a couple of days, as well.  I saw a couple of the other guys.  I think mainly it’s the drive to go out again and compete after a couple of weeks, both competitors, and try to look for that feeling to be out there with a scorecard playing against a shared opponent. It’s a nice break after a long season.  I think for all the guys on Tour, everybody is hungry to go out and get ready for a good start of the year.

PAUL DUNNE:  I was back in Ireland the and spent the last week in Dubai.  But I did four years of college in Alabama, so it’s similar enough to this when I go over there August.  I’m quite used to the humidity.  I like it at home in the cold, but not enough to play golf.  It was nice to take a couple weeks off in the cold and go back and practice in Dublin.

Q.  Since it’s the Ryder Cup year, how much of a goal is it to try and make an impression on Thomas for The Ryder Cup and making it to the team when you play here?

ALEX NOREN:  Well, I think Thomas knows this by playing so many years on Tour, the most important thing is to play well when it matters during The Ryder Cup days.  So if I do a good showing here but don’t play as good the rest of the year, it doesn’t really matter.  I think we are all used to playing under pressure and all you need to do is play good here and during the season and during The Ryder Cup.  You know, I think that’s the goal for me.

Q.  Getting the team together, has that been has there been anything special that you’ve done?

From left Arjun Atwal Captain Team Asia and Thomas Bjorn Captain Team Europe

From left Arjun Atwal Captain Team Asia and Thomas Bjorn Captain Team Europe

BERND WIESBERGER:  I think in general, all the players know each other really well.  I would say that they are all really good friends and competitors and we know each other on a weekly basis on The European Tour or internationally. I would say that we don’t need a lot of time to bond.  It’s just very nice to see each other again after a long time and feed off each other by playing well.  I guess we all arrived at some point yesterday and got together in the team room, played a little bit of ping‑pong or PlayStation and that’s about it.  So there’s nothing really out of the ordinary so far I would say.

Q.  The challenge that the Asian team faces, given that all 12 of your players, they play almost every week together and you all know each other so well.  Do you think its more of a challenge for these guys on Team Asia who don’t play with each other every week?

PAUL DUNNE:  Maybe it’s a challenge for their captain to see who they want to pair anybody with but I don’t think so.  I think on our team wants to win it for each other and everybody on their team wants to win it for each other.  At the end of the day, on the golf course everybody wants to put in the best performance they can, and if they do that, they want to put points on the board for their team and we want to did that, as well, and hopefully we can come out on top.

Q.  What do you guys think about this tournament itself, the EurAsia Cup?

ALEX NOREN:  Well, like I said, I played the Royal Trophy, and I really liked that.  There are really good players on both sides, which makes it a great event.  Especially on a year where the Ryder Cup feels so special like we said earlier. You know, I think it’s a super start to the season.  I wasn’t on the team two years ago and I would have loved to be on the team, and this year, I’m happy to be on it.  It feels quite big for me, especially when I haven’t played that many before.

BERND WIESBERGER:  I think we could all agree that golf in Asia is growing and the quality of players is growing over here.  It’s definitely a challenge to find a European Team to come over here and play these guys.  You can see them improving in the rankings and with their golf. Therefore, you know, even though we had a really good win last time, I think we come here with all the respect for all the players facing us and knowing the quality of them. But having said that, I think we all try to prepare as well as possible individually and as a team the next few days to try and take on a strong opponent.  Therefore, I think the credibility of the tournament is really high; that we have this match up with strong Asian golf this week.

BRIONY CARLYON:  Thank you, gentlemen, for joining us, and all the best for this week.

Ends.