Ki­radech dreams of win­ning for coun­try

Bangkok Post - - GOLF - CHUAH CHOO CHI­ANG Chuah Choo Chi­ang is se­nior di­rec­tor, com­mu­ni­ca­tions for the PGA Tour and is based in Kuala Lumpur.

Team com­pe­ti­tions of­ten bring out the best from ath­letes, es­pe­cially when they proudly put on the na­tional flag to rep­re­sent their coun­tries.

Such a priv­i­lege can evoke an over­flow of pas­sion, com­pet­i­tive spirit and pride that sub­se­quently cre­ate a won­der­ful the­atre for sports fans to en­joy and cel­e­brate.

In golf, the op­por­tu­nity to rep­re­sent your coun­try in a team com­pe­ti­tion is few and far be­tween as the pro­fes­sional cir­cuits, from the PGA Tour to the do­mes­tic tours around the world, reg­u­larly see golfers bat­tling it out for in­di­vid­ual hon­ours on a weekly ba­sis.

Later this month in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia, some 56 of the finest golfers in the world will team up to rep­re­sent 28 coun­tries to vie for one of the most prized team tro­phies, the World Cup of Golf.

It is a team com­pe­ti­tion rich in his­tory and tra­di­tion where past win­ning part­ner­ships in­clude great names such as of Ben Ho­gan-Sam Snead, Peter Thom­son-Kel Na­gle, Arnold Palmer-Jack Nick­laus, David Du­valTiger Woods, Davis Love III-Fred Cou­ples and Ernie Els-Retief Goosen.

For the Asian na­tions, the 2018 World Cup of Golf at the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Golf Club from Nov 22-25 will of­fer an­other great stage t o show­case t he grow­ing strength and depth of the game in the Far East.

Since the event’s in­au­gu­ra­tion in 1953, which was ini­tially known as the Canada Cup, Asian na­tions have been crowned World

Cup of Golf cham­pi­ons on three oc­ca­sions, with To­ra­kichi Naka­mura-Koichi

Ono of Ja­pan win­ning on home soil in 1957, fol­lowed by Chi­nese Taipei’s Lu Liang-huan-Hsieh Min­nan in Mel­bourne in 1972 and later a sec­ond Ja­panese tri­umph by Toshi Izawa-Shigeki Maruyama in Mex­ico in 2002.

Ki­radech Aphibarn­rat, the first Thai to earn a PGA Tour card for the 201819 sea­son, has picked best friend Prom Mee­sawat, a two-time Asian Tour win­ner, as his part­ner as they at­tempt to im­press at the Met­ro­pol­i­tan.

Win­ning the World Cup of Golf for the first time will have unimag­in­able con­se­quences for the growth of the game, says Ki­radech.

“If we can win the World Cup, it’ll mean a lot. We’re play­ing for our coun­try. We’re not play­ing only for our­selves, or for our cad­dies … we’re play­ing for 70 mil­lion Thai peo­ple. We’ve got the Thai flag on our chest. There’ll be more pres­sure that we have to han­dle play­ing for our coun­try. If you win the World Cup, ev­ery­one will know you are from that coun­try,” said Ki­radech.

All eyes will very much be on China’s Li Hao­tong and Wu Ashun who teamed up bril­liantly to fin­ish tied for sec­ond in Mel­bourne two years ago. They will forge their part­ner­ship and with their form very much in­tact — both have won on the Eu­ro­pean Tour this year — much is ex­pected from the Chi­nese dy­namic duo.

“We en­joyed our­selves two years ago. With some luck, we could have won, so we’ll go there with the aim to chal­lenge for a win. To have the chance to rep­re­sent China again makes me very happy and we’ll do our best to make China proud,” said Wu, who won his third Eu­ro­pean Tour vic­tory in the Nether­lands in Septem­ber.

In­dia’s Anir­ban Lahiri and Ga­gan­jeet Bhullar could po­ten­tially pro­vide a pow­er­ful part­ner­ship in the World Cup of Golf as well. Lahiri, now an es­tab­lished PGA Tour reg­u­lar, said: “It’s very spe­cial, I’m very ex­cited,” said Lahiri, 31.

Bhullar, a nine-time Asian Tour win­ner, said: “This will be my sec­ond event in the World Cup with my pre­vi­ous one be­ing with Anir­ban, so we re­ally gel on the golf course. We’ve played a lot of ju­nior and am­a­teur golf to­gether and un­der­stand each other’s game plan re­ally well so I’m look­ing for­ward to the World Cup.”

Other Asian part­ner­ships to look out for at the World Cup of Golf in­clude Korea’s An Byeong-Hun and Kim Si-Woo, the 2017 Play­ers Cham­pi­onship win­ner, Ja­pan’s Satoshi Ko­daira-Hideto Tani­hara and Malaysia’s Gavin Green-Ben Leong.

An, who is now play­ing in his third sea­son on the PGA Tour, said the World Cup of Golf could also be a nice pre­lude to his hopes of break­ing into the In­ter­na­tional team for the Pres­i­dents Cup. “I missed last two Pres­i­dents Cup, so I would love to play for the In­ter­na­tion­als next year” said An, a for­mer US Am­a­teur cham­pion.

Green, the Asian Tour No. 1 in 2017, was ec­static to earn his first ap­pear­ance in the World Cup of Golf as his ca­reer con­tin­ues to trend up­wards. “It’s amaz­ing that I’ve qual­i­fied for the World Cup of Golf. I’ve al­ways wanted to play in the event and to have the op­por­tu­nity to rep­re­sent Malaysia.”

Pride and pas­sion, na­tion vs na­tion will very much be the main theme at the World Cup of Golf and Asia’s lead­ing golfers will be aim­ing to bring hon­our and glory to their re­spec­tive na­tions.

Ki­radech Aphibarn­rat will rep­re­sent Thai­land at the 2018 World Cup of Golf in Mel­bourne.

Anir­ban Lahiri of In­dia.

Li Hao­tong of China.

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