EurAsia Cup: Anirban Lahiri, Gaganjeet Bhullar among Indian players in matchplay contest
The inaugural EurAsia Cup will pit the best players from Asia and Europe in a matchplay contest at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club from March 27-29. The Indians have a total of eight Asian Tour victories between themselves.
Excited to be a part of Team Asia in the inaugural EurAsia Cup, Indian golfers Anirban Lahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar said they are confident of putting up strong performances despite the difficult format of the Ryder Cup-style showdown.
The event will pit the best players from Asia and Europe in a matchplay contest at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club from March 27-29. The Indians have a total of eight Asian Tour victories between themselves.
"The feeling sunk in only a few weeks ago when I had to go to the tailor and get my measurements for the team jacket and send it to the Tour. I'm really excited. Gagan and I were both talking about the importance of the EurAsia Cup too," said Lahiri.
"It's nice to be part of a team which want the same thing which is to beat Europe. We're looking forward to it," added the 26-year-old.
Ranked 99th in the world, Lahiri moved inside the top-100 on the Official World Golf Rankings for the first time since turning professional in 2007.
With pride and honour at stake, Lahiri has vowed to replicate his individual form for team glory despite being involved in a contest of this format for the first time.
"We've always grown up watching Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup which are the two biggest team events in the world and EurAsia Cup will come in right behind those two events.
"I've played in a few team events in India which was strokeplay but this will be match play in fourball and foursomes format. It's going to be a new experience. Even as amateurs, you play team events but you still play it as strokeplay and individually," said Lahiri.
Lahiri enjoyed a stellar season on the Asian Tour in 2013 when he celebrated his third Tour victory on home soil followed by three runner-up finishes and five other top-10s to cap the year with a career high of third place on the 2013 Asian Tour Order of Merit.
With Team Asia captained by three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner, Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, Lahiri is confident Asia will reign supreme over Europe.
"I know there's a strategy that is being discussed in detail by Thongchai. We've got a good team and home turf advantage. When we get there on Monday, we'll need to finalise our strategies then go ahead and play well. Every member is a great player. If we play to our potential, we shouldn't have a problem beating the Europeans," said Lahiri.
Bhullar, who is a year younger than Lahiri, first teamed up with the latter during their amateur days where they helped India win the silver medal at the Asian Games in 2006.
Since turning professionals, they have been highly regarded as among the best players to emerge from India and Asia.
A five-time winner on the region's premier Tour, Bhullar earned his place at the EurAsia Cup when he finished fifth on the 2013 Asian Tour Order of Merit.
While acknowledging that the EurAsia Cup will pose a different challenge, Bhullar is excited with the prospect of taking on the best players from Europe.
"Matchplay golf is more fun and interesting. It's far more difficult as well because you have to play against your opponent. It's a great sense of achievement to qualify for Team Asia," said Bhullar.
Known for his aggressive style of play, Bhullar is confident that the good blend of playing styles will ultimately steer Team Asia to glory in Malaysia.
"I'm honoured to be part of the first team in the EurAsia Cup. It's going into the history books. Looking at the team, I think we've got many long hitters and good ball strikers, there are a lot of players on our team who also have got great short games," said Bhullar.
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).