Golf: International Team spots a boost for Asian golf, says Lahiri and Thongchai

SINGAPORE (REUTERS) - The automatic International Team spots that Thai stalwart Thongchai Jaidee and rising Indian Anirban Lahiri have earned for the Presidents Cup will boost Asian golf, the duo and the regional Tour said on Tuesday.

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.

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, the world No. 40. "It'll be a massive boost for golf in the region. All I want to do is make sure that I get a point for the International Team."

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 stalwart 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.