Event: EurAsia Cup
Date: January 12-14
Location: Glenmarie Golf & Country Club, Malaysia
TV: Sky Sports Golf – Fri, Sat & Sun: 3.30am-7am
It’s a Ryder Cup year and you know what that means… it’s also EurAsia Cup year.
Okay, okay, so the biennial event between Europe and Asia may not have the allure of the Europe v USA showpiece later this year.
It does, however, offer the opportunity for Ryder Cup hopefuls to showcase their prowess in a team environment under the watchful eye of captain Thomas Bjorn.
So who’s playing? How does it work? And does it mean anything in terms of the Ryder Cup? We’ve rounded it all up here…
Who are the captains?
Europe: Thomas Bjorn
For the Dane, it's his first taste of captaincy since leading Continental Europe at the 2009 Seve Trophy and, like Darren Clarke in 2016, it will provide some preparation ahead of leading Europe at the Ryder Cup in September.
Asia: Arjun Atwal
The EurAsia Cup marks the Indian's captaincy debut and he revealed he turned to Tiger Woods for advice. "I pretty much picked Tiger’s brain a little bit because we are really close," he said. Part of Woods' advice was in how to deal with his team, with some playing in Japan and others on the European Tour and PGA Tour.
What happened last time?
In the second staging of the event, Europe ran out resounding winners with a scoreline of 18.5-5.5. Danny Willett secured the winning point in the fourth match of the Sunday singles. The inaugural EurAsia Cup in 2014 finished in a 10-10 tie.
Right, so we know who the captains are... but which 12 players are teeing it up on each side? Here are the teams:
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Team Europe Captain @mrtbjorn has announced his line-up for EurAsia Cup 2018, taking place at Glenmarie Golf & Country Club in KL from 12-14 Jan. A full house of 12 European Tour Winners led by Bjørn will be looking to retain the trophy they won in 2016! #eurasiacup #teameurope
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Team Asia Captain Arjun Atwal announced his line-up for EurAsia Cup 2018 presented by DRB-HICOM. A team mixed with young talent and experienced players will face a strong European side which will be playing at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia from 12-14 January 2018.#eurasiacup #teamasia #teamasiaboleh
Items of note:
• All players in Team Europe are ranked inside the top 50, while only two of Team Asia (Yuta Ikeda, No.35; Kiradech Aphibarnrat, No.49) are.
• Henrik Stenson (No.9) is the highest ranked player teeing it up. The lowest ranked player in the event, meanwhile, is Nicholas Fung (No.335).
• Ross Fisher is the only player with an unbeaten EurAsia Cup record, with two-and-a-half points from three matches.
• There are 13 nationalities represented in Malaysia this week. Seven from Europe (Austria, Belgium, England, France, Ireland, Spain and Sweden) and six from Asia (China, India, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand).
What's the format?
There are 24 points up for grabs across three days but no, it doesn't follow the same format as the Ryder Cup. Here's how it works:
Friday: 6x fourball matches starting at 8.35am [12.35am UK time]
Saturday: 6x foursomes matches from 9.35am [1.35am UK time]
Sunday: 12x singles matches from 8.35am
Does it mean anything in terms of Ryder Cup selection?
Not particularly. Less than half of the players that took part in the 2016 EurAsia Cup went onto represent Europe at Hazeltine (Danny Willett, Andy Sullivan, Matt Fitzpatrick, Chris Wood and Lee Westwood).
But while the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm - dead certs to be on the team at Le Golf National - aren't teeing it up, it does give Bjorn a chance to view potential players at his disposal and see how they operate in a team environment.
In 2016, Westwood - a big chum of then captain Darren Clarke - was selected as a wildcard pick for both events. Could that be the case for the guy below?
All eyes on…
After making himself unavailable for the 2016 Ryder Cup by not rejoining the European Tour, the 40-year-old Englishman returned at the end of last year and this marks his first team matchplay event for ten years (2008 Ryder Cup).
In taking up a wildcard spot in Bjorn’s team, Casey has shown a real desire to be part of the Dane’s plans at Le Golf National and a strong showing here would go a long way to securing his place in the side.