Shah Alam, Malaysia, November 5: Team Europe Captain, Darren Clarke has fired the first salvo ahead of the highly anticipated second edition of the EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM against Asia from January 15-17, 2016.
“I think we can win, I know we can win and I hope we will win,” said Clarke today.
“Team Europe is coming here to win. I’ve got to beat my old friend Jeev (Milkha Singh, the Asian captain). I can’t have Jeev beat me. I’m looking forward it.”
Clarke, who is also non-playing captain of Europe’s Ryder Cup team, visited the host venue, the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club today in preparation for the inter-continental team match play showdown which ended in a thrilling 10-10 draw in 2014.
The Ulsterman, a 14-time European Tour winner, one-time Major champion and a five-time Ryder Cup team member, said he had no hesitation about leading Europe in the EurAsia Cup. In the first edition, Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez was nominated by previous Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley to lead Europe at Glenmarie.
Clarke also believes Europe’s famous team spirit will see them prevailing this time.
“They (European Tour) spoke to me about it some time ago and I wanted to do it myself. I know Paul had Miguel do it last year but I wanted to be more involved with the guys and to get closer to the guys to make some decision and to see how they react. I’m excited about it.,” said the 47-year-old.
“The team spirit is massive and certainly with the Ryder Cups. The team spirit has been a huge part of Europe’s success and I hope to replicate that when the guys are here in January.
“I think to be captain of the Ryder Cup is the highest honour that The European Tour can bestow us as members. Then to have the opportunity to be captain of the EurAsia Cup is also a huge honour because I can only see the EurAsia Cup going only in one direction ... I see it only going bigger and bigger and bigger.”
With Europe’s team qualifying ending in three weeks’ time, Clarke is confident his 12-man squad will arrive for the EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM with a mission to excel for themselves and Team Europe.
“I think the fact that I’m the Ryder Cup captain as well, I think they’ll want to try to impress me. I hope they’ll be trying to impress me, if not then I think there’s something wrong!” he said.
“I think all the guys are desperate to play well. You know, Team Europe we’ve got a bit of a tradition. We’re very proud and I’m sure the guys are all going to pull together.”
He said he will include some of the attributes he picked up from playing under five different Ryder Cup team captains in his own captaincy.
“I think the most relaxed one yet and had everything covered was Sam Torrance. He did a wonderful job at the Belfry. He was absolutely brilliant. And then Seve (Ballesteros), he was inspirational,” said Clarke, who was in the victorious Ryder Cup team on four occasions.
“Bernhard Langer, he’s one of the most precise men in the game and Woosie (Ian Woosnam) at the K Club for me was very, very special. And Mark James, he did a great job at Brookline and the Americans just played better. I’ve been lucky to play for some really good captains. So a little bits of all of them (in his captaincy),” he added.
Clarke warned that Europe will not underestimate Team Asia come January, especially with the likes of Asian Tour stars Thongchai Jaidee, Anirban Lahiri and Kiradech Aphibarnrat now all ranked inside the world’s top-50.
“The Asian team, under no circumstances, will be underestimated. They are wonderful golfers and they are a very strong team. I’m sure Jeev will do a brilliant job trying to motivate his guys as much as I’m going to try to motivate my guys,” said Clarke.
The EurAsia Cup will feature 24 matches, with day one showcasing six Fourball matches, followed by six Foursomes matches and 12 Singles matches on the third day.
The winning team will share prize money of US$3.6 million while the runners-up will share US$1.2 million.
Team Asia will be selected as follows: the leading four available Asian players from the 2015 Asian Tour Order of Merit as of December 14, the leading four eligible and available Asian players from the Official World Golf Ranking as of December 14, and four captain’s picks.
Team Europe will be selected as follows: the leading 10 available players from the final 2015 Race to Dubai rankings plus two captain’s picks.