European stars Ross Fisher, Matt Fitzpatrick and Thomas Pieters expressed their love of match play golf ahead of taking on Team Asia in the biennial EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM this weekend.
The three players, part of Captain Thomas Bjørn’s 12-man European team set to face Arjun Atwal’s Asian team at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, would love to see more of the head-to-head format at golf’s highest level, believing the match play format to generate more excitement and passion on the course.
With all 12 members of Team Europe currently placed within the top 50 of the Official Golf World Rankings, Team Europe will enter the third edition of the EurAsia Cup as clear favourites to successfully defend the trophy won so convincingly (18 ½ – 5 ½ ) at Glenmarie in 2016.
But Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello was quick to warn against any sense of complacency among the European players, citing home advantage and the punishing heat and conditions as two of the main factors which will give the host team an advantage over their European guests.
The EurAsia Cup gets underway on Friday morning, with six Fouball matches before six Foursomes matches on Saturday and 12 Singles on Sunday.
Ross Fisher: “I love match play. We don’t get to play it that often, so when we do, it’s nice to have the chance, and especially in this kind of environment, playing in team format. We don’t get loads of time at all to play team golf. It’s great fun. You make new friendships. Like Thomas (Pieters) said, you’re only playing against one guy in singles; foursomes, fourball, a little different, but to me, I love foursomes.
“I think it’s a real test of golf, because in fourball and singles, it’s kind of still like stroke play because you’re playing your own ball, whereas in foursomes, it’s proper golf because you’re playing for your partner, you don’t want to let him down and he doesn’t want to let you down and you still obviously have got to play two other guys and you’re trying to beat them. I always really look forward to foursomes because I think that’s a really challenging and testing form of golf.”
Matt Fitzpatrick: “Just to add on Ross’s point, I think golf does need a little bit of a different format, maybe more team events, maybe more partner events. I think the whole match play feeling, you see it at The Ryder Cup, and obviously the U.S. guys have the Presidents Cup. You see it in the atmosphere, the crowd, the players. It means a little bit more to get a point for other guys.
“It’s as close as we get to playing football. Most of us like football, a lot more than golf to be honest. I think having something different rather than just the same old four rounds of stroke play would make it more exciting for people to play the game, as well. I really think it will really help to hopefully have a few more events like this and grow the game even more.”
Thomas Pieters: “I like match play a lot more. That’s why I’m hosting my own tournament as match play, as well. It gets me more excited from the moment I step onto the first tee. You’re just playing one guy and you want to beat the hell out of him! Obviously I love playing the Majors and big tournaments but sometimes I can get a bit uninterested. So that’s how match play helps me.”
Rafa Cabrera Bello: “If you have to pick a favourite, it would be Europe, but people don’t win tournaments or events on paper. You win them out there on the golf course.
“We are not playing in this type of greens that often and we don’t play in this type of weather and heat that often, so I don’t think in this case the World Ranking is actually a good reflection because we tend to play other climates in other parts of the world. If we played here as often as they did maybe it would be a better picture. I don’t think the World Rankings show how close the actual tournament is going to be.
“We are very proud, very honoured and very happy to be on this team, and we want to prove ourselves, prove our teammates and our countries, that we can perform to our highest level and we obviously deserve to be here.”