sport

G-Mac relishing EurAsia Cup

Graeme McDowell insists that the European Tour needs an event like the inaugural EurAsia Cup this week to help prepare for the Ryder Cup later this year at Gleneagles.

World No 14 McDowell is the highest-ranked player at the first ever EurAsia Cup being held in Kuala Lumpur this week, and he is no stranger to Ryder Cup success having holed the winning putt at Celtic manor in 2010 and played in the 'Miracle in Medinah' two years ago.

Although Miguel Angel Jimenez is captaining an inexperienced team in terms of Ryder Cups, with only McDowell from the last European side, the team is filled with Europeans who are right in the thick of it in qualifying.

Along with veteran Thomas Bjorn, Victor Dubuisson, Jamie Donaldson and Stephen Gallacher are all currently in qualifying positions, while Joost Luiten, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Pablo Larrazabal are all there or thereabouts.

Paul McGinley's Ryder Cup team may well contain more than just a couple of the EurAsia team come Gleneagles, and that is why McDowell feels it is such an important event.

Ryder prep

"One of the toughest parts of the Ryder Cup is putting pairings together, and getting foursomes pairings right," said McDowell.

"That's why a tournament like this, the EurAsia Cup, to me is something that's very, very important for both The European Tour and the Asian Tour. Asia is the main area of growth for the game of golf in the world, so it's a natural place for The European Tour.

"It's obviously a big part of the European Tour and to have a Europe versus Asia match is something that our schedule needs from a Ryder Cup point of view.

"We need this event to become something very special, something the guys look forward to and something that is part of Ryder Cup Team building; a chance to put ten guys together, come out here and play against a good team and try some pairings and really enjoy playing team golf.

"Team golf is very different from what we are used to as individuals because you're playing for each other.

"You just don't want to let your team mates down and there is a lot of extra pressure from that, but it's also one of the main reasons why European Teams have been so successful."

Gleneagles pointers

McGinley's vice-captain for Gleneagles, Des Smyth, will operate in the same role for Jimenez in Kuala Lumpur this week, so he will get to know the players as they get a chance to impress.

Playing captain Jimenez has featured in four Ryder Cups as a player, winning two, and has also been a vice-captain twice and he agrees that the EurAsia Cup could be a vital part of the preparation.

"The Ryder Cup started in 1927 and probably now is the event in golf and everyone wants to play and I think is the important thing," said Jimenez. "Now we start the EurAsia Cup in 2014 and hopefully with the support of the players and the effort of these two big tours, the EurAsia Cup will become a big event along with the Ryder Cup."

All ten players on each team will be in action in every session at Glenmarie's Garden course, with five fourball matches played on the opening day on Thursday, followed by five foursomes on Friday and ten concluding singles matches on Saturday.

Team Asia

Thongchai Jaidee (Captain, Thailand), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Thailand), Gaganjeet Bhullar (India), Nicholas Fung (Malaysia), Kim Hyung-sung (Korea,) Anirban Lahiri (India), Prayad Marksaeng (Thailand), Koumei Oda (Japan), Siddikur Rahman (Bangladesh), Hideto Tanihara (Japan).

Team Europe

Miguel Angel Jimenez (Captain, Spain), Thomas Bjorn (Denmark), Jamie Donaldson (Wales), Victor Dubuisson (France), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Spain), Stephen Gallacher (Scotland), Pablo Larrazabal (Spain), Joost Luiten (Netherlands), Graeme McDowell (N Ireland), Thorbjorn Olesen (Denmark).