#TeamTHA confident of contending at #WorldCupofGolf

Wed 23 Nov 2016

#TeamTHA confident of contending at #WorldCupofGolf

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Melbourne, Australia, November 23: Thongchai Jaidee believes he can combine effectively with Kiradech Aphibarnrat and produce the fireworks for Team Thailand to challenge for the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf which starts on Thursday.

Veteran star Thongchai, the only man to win three Asian Tour Order of Merit titles, arrived at Kingston Heath Golf Club in confident mood ahead of his fifth appearance at the prestigious team event.

Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand

“We have played so much golf together over the years and we know each other’s game so well. It’s very exciting to be here as a team. I think it’ll be fun. We are also playing for Thailand which is another proud occasion. It’s a good chance for us to win the trophy. In this format, anything can happen. It’s a matter of performing and putting together our game plan,” said the 47-year-old, who won the French Open in July.

“There are a lot of strong teams here but we’re not going to be thinking about them. We’ll just focus on our own games and try to play our best golf. I think we always have a chance to win and it would be great if we can as there are so many top names on the trophy. When I enter a tournament, I always think we have a chance so this week is the same.”

Thongchai’s best outing in the World Cup of Golf was a seventh place finish in the 2008 edition and he is confident of surpassing his personal best achievement alongside Kiradech, one of Asia’s most exciting talents to emerge in recent times.

“Kiradech drives the ball so well which is important here. Once he hits his tee shots, we’ll have to work together on how we will tackle the holes especially for tomorrow’s foursomes. His long game is so good that I’m going to be counting on him,” said the former paratrooper.

"We have played so much golf together over the years and we know each other’s game so well. It’s very exciting to be here as a team. I think it’ll be fun. We are also playing for Thailand which is another proud occasion. It’s a good chance for us to win the trophy." - Thongchai Jaidee

Big-hitting Kiradech, who is 20 years younger to Thongchai, has always looked up to his illustrious teammate as a junior and believes they can go toe-to-toe with the likes of the United States, led by Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker, Australia’s Adam Scott and Marc Leishman and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and Ryo Ishikawa.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand

“Thongchai is such an experienced player and he is one of the most consistent golfers in the game that I know I can count on him,” said Kiradech.

“I’ve always looked up to him when I was growing up and it’s nice to have a chance to play together in Melbourne. Some teams may struggle in this format if they don’t play together often enough but Thongchai and I have spent so much time together that we know each other so well that I can count on him."

Kiradech finished tied fifth in the individual category at the World Cup of Golf at Royal Melbourne in 2013 but is optimistic the revised team format which sees nations playing foursomes on Thursday and Saturday and fourball on Friday and Sunday will benefit Thailand.

“Coming back to this city brings back a lot of positive memories. I’ve spent some time in Melbourne as my wife used to study here. Conditions could be challenging with the so we’ll need to make sure our scoring is good especially in the foursomes. I’m looking forward to it,” said Kiradech, whose team will play alongside Korea’s Byeonghun An and K.T. Kim in the first round.

With three wins in his last four starts including the WGC-HSBC Champions, world number six Matsuyama, who is the highest ranked golfer in the field, will be eager to maintain his winning form alongside Ishikawa as he prepares to take his World Cup of Golf bow.

"I’ve always looked up to him when I was growing up and it’s nice to have a chance to play together in Melbourne. Some teams may struggle in this format if they don’t play together often enough but Thongchai and I have spent so much time together that we know each other so well that I can count on him." - Kiradech Aphibarnrat

“Tomorrow can't come fast enough,” said the 24-year-old Matsuyama. “There're a lot of great teams, and so hopefully at the end, we're hoping to be at the top.”

Team Japan arrived in Melbourne last Thursday to prepare early for the World Cup of Golf, an event the nation has won twice previously in 1957 and 2002. Ishikawa, who is making his second appearance, is hopeful of riding on his partner’s hot form.

Hideki Matsuyama of Japan Hideki Matsuyama of Japan

“Obviously Hideki is definitely one of the hottest players right now and I feel like he's definitely the best. I'm just coming in here trying to do my best and be able to compete with him because it's a definitely a great, great opportunity,” said the 25-year-old Ishikawa, a 14-time winner in Japan.

Matsuyama attributed his rich vein of form to his hot putting, which many believe will be the key to unlocking Kingston Heath. “I think at important times my putts have been going in, so I think that's been a huge key to my success,” he said.

When Shigeki Maruyama and Toshi Izawa won the World Cup in 2002, Matsuyama was only 10 but growing up as a junior golfer, he said stories about Japan’s triumph had provided the inspiration for him to excel in the game.

“When they won, that was the period when we really started getting into the game of golf and putting a lot of hours in. So obviously watching that and seeing that, someday maybe I thought could be at that position and compete at that level. So they're definitely an inspiration to me,” he said.

The 2016 World Cup will be the 58th staging of this event. For ticket information and to follow all of the news, player features and more as the event approaches, the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf web-site is http://www.pgatour.com/tournaments/isps-handa-world-cup-of-golf.html.

About ISPS HANDA

ISPS, the International Sports Promotion Society, is a charitable organization that promotes sports, such as golf, polo and rowing, in a belief that sports and sporting platforms can help achieve world peace. It also supports blind golf as its founder and chairman Haruhisa Handa, dubbed the father of blind golf in Japan, is the first person in Japan to establish a blind golf club, which is now called the Japan Blind Golf Association.

Dr Handa also serves as founder and chairman of the International Foundation for Arts and Culture, or IFAC, a nonprofit organization established to promote social welfare activities through music and art events. IFAC is title sponsor to the Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, one of the most celebrated events in the arts calendar in Australia and internationally, which takes place between the end of March and the end of April every year.

About Melbourne, Victoria

Voted the world’s most livable city for the past six years, Melbourne is a leader in staging international sporting and cultural events, with its super-friendly people ready to welcome World Cup of Golf visitors. The city is famed for its laneways and cafe culture, known as Australia's coffee capital, and is home to vibrant arts, music and fashion scenes. Melbourne's food credentials are attracting global attention and the city is the gateway to Victoria, including 21 wine regions, the stunning Great Ocean Road scenic drive and abundant native Australian wildlife. Victoria's landscapes offer everything from international surf beaches, islands and coastal experiences to Alpine mountain ranges and inland lakes. Victoria is also a popular destination for domestic and international golfing tourism, famed for its sandbelts and home to picturesque, challenging courses that suit every ability.

Media assistance is available for World Cup media wishing to develop destination related content, research locations for outside broadcasts, interview local personalities and access rights free footage. Please contact destinationpr@tourism.vic.gov.au with any requests. Destination information is also available at www.visitmelbourne.com

About the International Federation of PGA Tours

The International Federation of PGA Tours was formed in 1996 by golf’s five world governing bodies – the European Tour, Japan Golf Tour Organization, PGA TOUR, PGA Tour of Australasia and Sunshine Tour (South Africa PGA Tour) with the purpose of providing a forum for the world’s professional golf organizations to discuss issues of mutual importance and, together, develop and promote the game of golf on a global basis. As part of its mission, the Federation initiated the World Golf Championships in 1999. The Asian Tour joined the International Federation of PGA Tours in November 1999.

In step with global growth of professional golf, the International Federation of PGA Tours announced an expansion and restructuring of its membership in 2009, adding the International Golf Association and additional professional golf tours, including – for the first time – women’s golf tours: China Golf Association; Korea Professional Golfers’ Association; Professional Golf Tour of India; LPGA Tour; Ladies European Tour; Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour; Japan LPGA; Korean LPGA; and Ladies Asian Golf Tour.

About the International Golf Association

The International Golf Association (IGA) is a not-for-profit corporation, chartered in the State of New York in 1956. IGA is governed by its six-member Board of Directors. Jonathan Linen is the IGA Board Chairman. Through its association with the International Federation of PGA Tours, IGA continues its international goodwill through golf mission and looks forward to the 2016 return of the World Cup of Golf to Melbourne and a new Sandbelt region course in historic Kingston Heath Golf Club.