Sentosa (Singapore), Sep 10 (IANS) International Team captain Nick Price on Thursday expressed his delight with the addition of Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri and Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand into his side which will face the United States in the Presidents Cup in South Korea next month.
Price labelled three-time Asian Tour number one Thongchai a “fighter” while he also has good vibes about Lahiri after the International Team was finalised earlier this week.
“We’ve got Thongchai Jaidee and Anirban Lahiri who for the first time is on the team, they are rookies. It’s great,” Zimbabwean Price said in an Asian Tour release.
“I’m so happy Anirban made the team. I spoke to him last year in Fiji when we played in an event together and he was very excited about the prospect of playing. I know we are going to have a lot of fans in India supporting him.”
Lahiri, the current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader, has won twice in Asian Tour-European Tour co-sanctioned events in Malaysia and India earlier this season and finished tied fifth at the PGA Championship last month to post India’s best ever outing in a Major.
The 28-year-old will also become the first Indian to tee up in the biennial Presidents Cup, which has largely been dominated by the US.
At the WGC Cadillac Match Play earlier this year, Lahiri defeated the higher ranked Ryan Palmer but lost narrowly to Justin Rose on the 19th hole and 1-up to International teammate Marc Leishman.
Last year, the Indian contributed two points in Team Asia’s 10-10 draw with Europe at the inaugural EurAsia Cup in Malaysia, which included a convincing singles win over Victor Dubuisson who was then fresh off a runner-up finish at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play.
Like Lahiri, Thongchai will be one of the rookies in the International Team but Price considers the 45-year-old Thai a veteran.
“Thongchai Jaidee …what can you say, he’s a fighter,” enthused Price.
“He’s probably going to be, along with Adam (Scott), the veteran of the team even though he has not played in a Presidents Cup yet. The guy, he’s got a huge heart and I think he’s also going to be a wonderful addition.”
Thongchai, who holds 13 Asian Tour victories and has won twice on European soil in the past two years, has a good matchplay track record.
He qualified for the quarter-finals of the WGC Match Play in 2010, losing to eventual winner Ian Poulter who said his match against Thongchai was his toughest all week. Thongchai was also runner-up to Graeme McDowell in the Volvo World Match Play in Bulgaria in 2013.
Last year, the Thai ace captained Team Asia to a draw with Europe in the EurAsia Cup where he scored a singles victory over McDowell, which sparked the Asian fightback. At the Cadillac Match Play earlier this season, he lost to Martin Kaymer and George Coetzee but defeated Jim Furyk.
The US Team has won eight of the 10 previous Presidents Cups, and the only win by the International Team came at the 1998 event in Melbourne. The Presidents Cup 2003 ended in a tie.
The International Team: Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama, Branden Grace, Marc Leishman, Anirban Lahiri, Charl Schwartzel, Thongchai Jaidee, Danny Lee, Steven Bowditch, Sangmoon Bae.
The US Team: Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Jimmy Walker, Zach Johnson, Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar, Chris Kirk, Bill Haas, Phil Mickelson.