Thomas Bjorn expects close contest at EurAsia Cup
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 09/01/18 11:24am
Thomas Bjorn has warned his European team not to underestimate the strength of Asia ahead of this week's EurAsia Cup in Malaysia.
Bjorn believes Arjun Atwal's side is possibly the strongest they have fielded since the inaugural staging of the event in 2014, which ended in a thrilling 10-10 draw.
The Dane has six former Ryder Cup players in his team along with reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood and rising stars Tyrrell Hatton and Paul Dunne, while Paul Casey returns to team competition for Europe for the first time since 2008.
Darren Clarke captained Europe to a comprehensive 13-point victory in the last EurAsia Cup two years ago, but Bjorn is expecting a much closer contest in Kuala Lumpur this week.
"It is an event that is growing. We come here with a good team and I'm excited to stand at the head of that team," said Bjorn.
"As an individual golfer, you're out there representing yourself all the time, and sometimes you lose track of that a little bit; you represent so much more than yourself.
"This week, these players represent themselves, but they also represent Europe and the European Tour, and they represent their own countries.
"To get a group of people together like that, you feel very quickly when you walk into a team room that there's a different vibe about it, there's a different feel about it. They are very excited about being in each other's company but also looking very much forward to Friday.
"We're very well aware that Asia has never fielded a stronger team than they do this time and golf is a strange game. Whatever it says on paper very rarely comes out on top. So, those 12 players in that room are very aware that they have got to go out and play golf this week. This is not going to come to them easy, and they are up for it.
"I think the commitment from the players early on, wanting to play in this event, shows where European golf is - there's an excitement about representing Europe - that's something that says a lot about those 12 players in there.
"They want to win. I feel like when I look at them, that they have seen a lot of things happen and they know, in the game of golf, over 18 holes, anything can happen.
"Personal relationships and what you are as people probably play a bigger role when you start looking at pairings than the stats do, but it's a combination of all different factors that makes a great pairing. I don't look at it and say, this is the only thing I look at because then I don't feel like I'm doing my job properly. I need to look at all the factors that play in."
Team Europe: Rafa Cabrera Bello, Paul Casey, Paul Dunne, Ross Fisher, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Alex Levy, Alex Noren, Thomas Pieters, Henrik Stenson, Bernd Wiesberger.
Team Asia: Byeong-hun An, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, SSP Chawrasia, Nicholas Fung, Gavin Green, Li Haotong, Yuta Ikeda, Sunghoon Kang, Phachara Khongwatmai, Anirban Lahiri, Poom Saksansin, Hideto Tanihara.