January 29: Playing in the EurAsia Cup is undoubtedly an honour. However, judging from the outcomes of the previous two tournaments on the European Tour, the competition at the biennial matchplay event seemed to have help the participants prime their mindsets for the rest of season, giving them an edge over their opponents.
For one, Li Haotong of China won the recently-concluded Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
The previous week, Li’s EurAsia Cup opponent, Tommy Fleetwood, was the winner at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
Similar to the proceedings at the EurAsia Cup, Li came from behind to emerge victorious at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. His playing partner, former world number one and four-time major championship winner Rory McIlroy, had two-shot lead with just eight holes to play. To many, McIlroy’s win was going to be a mere formality.
The 22-year-old Chinese golfer had other ideas, though. He birdied four out of his last six holes and carded a tournament record low of 24-under-par 265 total, beating second-placed McIlroy by one-shot.
Similarly at this year’s EurAsia Cup, Li birdied the last hole in the fourballs to force a tie. He also rallied over the closing holes both at the foursomes and singles to beat his opponents. Li won 2.5 points for Team Asia.
2014 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion David Lipsky and 2016 Mauritius Open winner Jeunghun Wang also enjoyed a fruitful outing in the Middle East. They shared a tied-sixth finish at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
Sam Brazel of Australia carded a final-round 68 to finish tied-22nd. Asian Tour Order of Merit champions Scott Hend, Gavin Green and Kiradech Aphibarnrat finished tied-37th, tied-45th and tied-51st respectively.
Young hotshots Phachara Khongwatmai of Thailand (tied-57th) and Shubhankar Sharma of India (tied-61st) would have gained invaluable experience playing in the elite field.