Els Blog: EurAsia Cup a real winner for all

Tue 27 May 2014

Els Blog: EurAsia Cup a real winner for all

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May 27: Asian Tour Honorary Member and International Ambassador Ernie Els gives his thumbs-up to the Asian Tour and European Tour following the successful launch of the inaugural EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM in Malaysia earlier this year. Read all about it in his latest blog exclusively for asiantour.com
By Ernie Els
Enjoying such close ties with the Asian Tour, I naturally took great interest in the inaugural EurAsia Cup, which started in some style earlier this year. Having friends on both teams and having since spoken to some of them, they were full of praise for the event, saying it was great to get together and enjoy that unique team vibe. It’s an unusual but special experience for us tour pros because we are so used to golf being such an individual sport.
Take the Presidents Cup. I’ve played on the International team on eight occasions now and every single time the camaraderie has been wonderful. There’s always a decent mix of nationalities, but it feels like all 12 players and the captain and his assistants are united under one flag. For me personally it’s been a privilege to be on these teams and to play with such a great bunch of guys.
And over the years obviously there are plenty of special memories, including the famous playoff with Tiger Woods at Fancourt, with us playing in virtual darkness out there.
There’s a lot of pressure on you in these competitions and some of the EurAsia Cup debutants will know what that feels like now. It’s very different to playing in a regular strokeplay tournament. You’ve got the weight of a whole team on your shoulders and in that playoff, Tiger and I only had to look across and see the faces of our teammates to know how much it meant to them. You sure don’t want to let them down. So yes, definitely a lot of nerves, but that’s part of the buzz of team golf. You’ve got to love it.
Tournaments like the Presidents Cup, the Ryder Cup and now the EurAsia Cup do tend to bring out the best in the players’ games. It’s very competitive and things can get pretty animated at times, but the matches are always played in the right spirit and that’s important.
What’s also important for the tournament and the fans is that you get some drama. The EurAsia Cup certainly delivered on that front. The Europeans had a spectacular start, leading 5-0 at the end of day one and then by what looked like a comfortable margin of 7-3 going into the final day’s singles.
At that time, my guess is not many people would have predicted a close finish, let alone a draw, but what a comeback from the Asian players. I saw the coverage on television and it was an incredible performance. Seriously, when the opposing team has all the momentum it can be very difficult to turn that around, but they did it. I take my hat off to captain Thongchai Jaidee and his team.
For me it was particularly interesting to see guys like Anirban Lahiri, who I played with last year in the Chiangmai Golf Classic and was really impressed with, and Gaganjeet Bhullar, both really showing what they can do and winning their singles matches.
Anirban saw off Victor Dubuisson and I know from my experience playing him in the semis at the WGC Accenture Matchplay what a tough opponent Victor can be.
It illustrated perfectly one of the beauties of matchplay golf – it’s just so unpredictable. It’s also a great leveler. One side may look stronger than another on paper, but when the action starts, you may as well throw the formbook straight over the out-of-bounds fence.
Basically, at this level of professional golf, anyone can beat anyone else, especially over 18 holes. I think that’s what golf fans love about this format. Obviously as a player you can be on the receiving end or you can be giving it out. Matchplay golf can work both ways, like it or not!
Looking ahead from an impartial perspective, it’s easy to be optimistic for the future of the EurAsia Cup and you can only see it getting bigger and even better.
We all recognise that Asia is one of the game’s biggest growth areas and if this type of contest is encouraged to thrive then it will only help accelerate that growth. The EurAsia Cup is also fantastic for Asia’s best young golfers as it gives them a platform to showcase their talents and get the world of golf to sit up and take notice of them.
You’d have to say that even from the European Tour’s standpoint they’d be strongly motivated to ensure the future success of this tournament, as it gives them another firm foothold in this key market.
For now, though, I’ll simply say well done to everyone involved in the first ever EurAsia Cup. It was a drawn contest but, as both captains said afterwards, there was one winner – the game of golf. Nothing wrong with that, is there?