Presidents Cup spots a boost for Asia, say Lahiri and Thongchai

Presidents Cup spots a boost for Asia, say Lahiri and Thongchai

Current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Lahiri was seventh, while Thongchai, a 13-time winner in Asia, was ninth when the 10 automatic International qualifiers were locked in based on the latest world ranking.

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They will be the first golfers from their respective countries to play in the biennial event against the United States, scheduled at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon City, South Korea, from Oct. 8-11.

“I can’t describe the feeling because growing up, you look up to events like the Ryder Cup and feel terrible about it as you can’t be a part of something like that,” said Lahiri, fresh from his major-best tied fifth finish at the PGA Championship last month.

“I know Jeev (Milkha Singh) was really close to getting in one year when he was in the world’s top-50 and unfortunately, he couldn’t due to injury. It would have done a lot of good for golf, not just in India but in Asia.”

“It’ll be a massive boost for golf in the region. You get so many eyeballs and everybody in America will be watching… All I want to do is make sure that I get a point for the International Team,” added the world number 40.

Lahiri was part of the Thongchai-led Team Asia in their 10-10 draw with Team Europe in the inaugural EurAsia Cup in Malaysia last year.

The Thai stalawart said it was a proud moment for him.

“It’ll be the first time that a Thai player will play in the Presidents Cup,” said the 45-year-old.

“I think it can help the other young Asian players. When they see that I can get into the team, then they too will aim for it.”

Their automatic qualification underlines the continent’s progress in golf, said Asian Tour Chairman Kyi Hla Han.

“We expect them to contribute immensely towards the International Team’s attempt to regain the Presidents Cup but ultimately, their presence will boost the development of the game across Asia,” he said.

“Young golfers will now have another reason to aspire for the top and with Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama also in the International Team, it proves that Asian golf has grown in stature and strength.”

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)