Darren Clarke and Jeev Milkha Singh will respectively captain Europe and Asia at the EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM at Glenmarie Golf and Country Club in Kula Lumpur, Malaysia, from January 15-17, 2016.
Clarke and Singh have been friends for as long as they can remember, and they are clearly relishing the opportunity to lead their Continents to what would be an historic first victory at the EurAsia Cup, after an unforgettable 10-10 draw at the event’s inaugural staging in 2014.
As they got together to help announce the January date and return to DRB-HICOM’s Glenmarie Golf and Country Club for the second staging of the EurAsia Cup, where Clarke and Singh will be non-playing captains of 12-man teams, the pair quickly set the tone for what will be an intriguing rivalry.
“We have known each other a very, very long time,” smiled Clarke. “We have played together on Tour for most of our careers, so we have played together for a very long time. Both teams that are assembled will be desperate to win the EurAsia Cup for the first time – when we get to Kuala Lumpur Jeev will be trying to kick my butt and I will be trying to kick his. It’s going to be a great week – the guys are really looking forward to it already.”
Singh added: “It’s an honour to be offered the EurAsia Cup Captaincy and I am very excited by the prospect of leading what I hope will be a very strong Asian team. It is a special event – I remember watching it two years ago and it was so exciting. I think it’s going to be great for Asia and Europe. Golf is now a global sport so it’s going to be a fantastic competition. I’m looking forward to going up against Darren – I’m going to have a lot of fun with him!”
No matter the outcome of the second EurAsia Cup, which will see six fourball matches and six foursomes matches played over the opening two days before 12, final day singles matches will determine the winner, the players of both Asia and Europe will be guided by two of golf’s most respected competitors.
Singh, a former Asian Tour Number One who has won 20 times around the world including four European Tour victories, is India’s most successful player.
The 43 year old from Chandigarh, India, is the son of Olympic athlete parents, his father a sprinter famously known as the flying Sikh, while his mother captained the Indian volleyball team. Jeev was awarded the Padma Shri (the fourth highest civilian award in India) for services to golf in 2007.
Singh is relishing every aspect of his captaincy of Asia’s EurAsia Cup team and believes the Asian players are now more than ever capable of out playing and out fighting their European counterparts in team competition, with four Asian players qualifying for the Presidents Cup side to face the USA in Korea next month.
“There are so many world class Asian players,” said Singh. “We have a lot of players in the Presidents Cup team this year which proves how good these guys are now. I want them to have fun and be positive and make sure the team spirit is there so we can try and achieve a great result.
“There will be a rivalry between the players – it has to be there. But I think we will have our players ready. Everybody is trying to win out there and make the most out of it – I think rivalry is what gets the best out of a player in many ways.
“I think I will be a good Captain. I think mostly you have to let the guys get on with it but it is my job to keep them positive and patient and let them believe in themselves enough to achieve what they can.
I just hope I can get a great team out there and keep them calm and collected and get the best out of them. Playing at home will be an advantage for us because our players are so used to the weather and conditions.”
Clarke has enjoyed a phenomenal career which saw him become the first European winner of a World Golf Championship (defeating Tiger Woods 4&3 in the 36-hole WGC – Match Play final of 2000), and culminated at The 2011 Open Championship when, aged 42, he claimed the Major title he coveted above all. Clarke was also a leading member of five European Ryder Cup teams, and his proud record of wining ten, losing seven and halving three matches helped Europe to four victories.
Clarke will, of course, lead Europe to Hazeltine in September next year to defend The Ryder Cup, and the 47 year old Northern Irishman believes his EurAsia Cup captaincy can provide invaluable experience as he seeks to continue Europe’s incredible Ryder Cup record.
“The EurAsia Cup is going to give me a great opportunity to see a lot of potential Ryder Cup players in a match play and team situation, and looking to the future, I think any prospective Ryder Cup Captain would relish the opportunity to put some pairings together and see how guys play together and bond.
“I have to see how the team shapes up – some of the guys I will know very well and some I won’t know so well in terms of their golf games. There might be some opportunities for me to see some potential Ryder Cup pairings and that is something that could be invaluable to me.
“But first and foremost we want to go there and win the EurAsia Cup. I have already had a lot of players talking to me about it and no matter who is in the European side, we will be hungry to win. It’s going to be very tough – we saw what happened the last time when it ended in a draw. It’s going to be very hot as we know KL always is, but the majority of golfers now are athletes who are fit and strong young men so we should be able to handle that.”
Clarke is well aware of the threat which will be posed from his friend Singh’s Asian team, adding: “We have seen over the last few years so many fantastic Asian players coming through and it’s a wonderful opportunity for those guys – some of them that we know on The European Tour and some we are maybe not so familiar with – to show just how good they are. Believe me, Jeev is going to have a very strong team so hopefully the guys from Europe will be up for the fight.”
Asian Tour www.asiantour.com
European Tour www.europeantour.com