Golf: Asian duo delighted to make Presidents Cup history

Thai great Thongchai Jaidee (left) and India's Anirban Lahiri will make historic appearances at the Presidents Cup in South Korea next month.
Thai great Thongchai Jaidee (left) and India's Anirban Lahiri will make historic appearances at the Presidents Cup in South Korea next month.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LOS ANGELES • Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri and Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee have expressed their delight after confirming their spots in the International team to face the United States in the Presidents Cup.

It is the first time the two countries have been represented in the biennial Ryder-Cup style tournament.

Lahiri was assured of his spot after being the seventh highest-ranked international player eligible for the competition.

Thongchai was two places back at ninth to fall inside the top 10 automatically selected for next month's event in Incheon, South Korea.

"I can't describe my feelings right now," said Lahiri, who tied for fifth at the PGA Championship last month, the best ever finish in a Major by an Indian golfer.

"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. But, thankfully, we have the Presidents Cup for us to aim for, and it is such an achievement to make the team.

"This will be a massive boost for golf in India and the region as a whole."

Former paratrooper Thongchai, 45, said on Monday that he hoped his participation would serve as an inspiration to the next generation of Asian golfers.

"It'll be the first time that a Thai player will play in the Presidents Cup," he said.

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

Asian Tour chairman Kyi Hla Han believes the duo's automatic qualification underlines the continent's progress in golf.

"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.

International team's captain Nick Price of Zimbabwe and US skipper Jay Haas are set to name their two captain's picks for the Oct 6-11 event this morning (Singapore time). The American challenge at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club will be spearheaded by Jordan Spieth and will also include Rickie Fowler, who won the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday.

"To finally make a Presidents Cup team, that's always been a goal of mine," said Fowler, who won the Kolon Korea Open in 2011.

"I'm one-for-one over there (in Korea), so I might as well go over and make it two-for-two."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2015, with the headline 'Asian duo delighted to make Presidents Cup history'. Print Edition | Subscribe