EurAsia Cup gives Europe chance at Ryder prep

Graeme McDowell says the EurAsia Cup needs to become part of Europe's preparation for the Ryder Cup, especially in finding pairings that work.

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The pairings for the first matches at the inaugural EurAsia Cup are out in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as the Europeans taking part have an eye on preparation for this year's Ryder Cup.

If there is any foreshadowing to be seen in Thursday's pairings, only time will tell. But captain Miguel Angel Jimenez will partner with fellow Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal, while Thomas Bjorn and Thorbjorn Olesen will form an all-Denmark pairing.

Remaining groups for the morning four-ball matches are Victor Dubuisson and Joost Luiten; Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Stephen Gallacher; and Graeme McDowell and Jamie Donaldson.

“One of the toughest parts of The Ryder Cup is putting pairings together, and getting foursomes pairings right,” said Graeme McDowell. ". . . It's obviously a big part of The European Tour and to have a Europe versus Asia match is something that our schedule needs from a Ryder Cup point of view. We need this event to become something very special, something the guys look forward to and something that is part of Ryder Cup Team building; a chance to put ten guys together, come out here and play against a good team and try some pairings and really enjoy playing team golf."

Look no further than Thorbjorn Olesen and Joost Luiten to see that pairings and players' mentalities might call for careful consideration.

Olesen said of match play and in some aspects of playing with a partner: “I tend to think with a different mind-set, especially with the putting where you can generally be a bit more aggressive in match play. Also, as soon as you go down in a game you know you need to really start attacking the pins, even on holes or with flag positions where you would not normally.

Luiten agreed, at least when it comes to four-ball matches: “I think especially in four-balls, when you are playing together and you have your partner to fall back on, you can really try to go for the pins. You have to do that; birdies win holes in that form of the game so you need to get aggressive.

However, Luiten's outlook on alternate-shot play took a different tone: "You don’t want to be hitting your birdie putt six feet by the hole and then handing over to your playing partner and saying, ‘Over to you.’ You need to be careful and considered. It is one of the most difficult forms of the game there is."

Team Europe might have the most interesting captain in the world: See Miguel Angel Jimenez talk recently in this Q&A video (mobile readers can watch here).

Said Joost Luiten: “It’s a totally different game than stroke play. You can look more towards your opponent and what he’s doing and just try to make sure you do one less than him every hole.

“You can change your approach on the course more. In normal events you decide on a game plan beforehand and try to keep to it but with match play, if your opponent sticks two balls in the water then there is no point in taking risks, you can play it safer."

Here are more facts and figures about this week's EurAsia Cup:

WHEN/WHERE: Thursday through Saturday at Glenmarie G&CC in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

AT STAKE: $300,000 per player on the winning team in a $4 million purse.

TOP-RANKED PLAYERS, OWGR: No. 14 Graeme McDowell, No. 23 Victor Dubuisson. GOLFWEEK/SAGARIN: No. 34 Joost Luiten, No. 38 Thomas Bjorn.

SHORT SHOTS: The most-represented countries in the event are Spain and Thailand, each with three players (Jimenez, Fernandez-Castano, Larrazabal, Thongchai Jaidee, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Prayad Marksaeng). . . . Jaidee captains the Asian team, ranked No. 49 by OWGR and No. 75 by Golfweek/Sagarin. . . . The European Tour goes to the NH Collection Open in Spain next week.

• • •

Complete tee times and pairings for Thursday's matches in the 2014 EurAsia Cup at Glenmarie GC in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (all times local):

8:40 a.m.: Miguel Angel Jimenez & Pablo Larrazabal, Europe, vs. Thongchai Jaidee & Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Asia

8:55 a.m.: Thomas Bjorn & Thorbjorn Olesen, Europe, vs. Koumei Oda & Hideto Tanihara, Asia

9:10 a.m.: Victor Dubuisson & Joost Luiten, Europe, vs. Prayad Marksaeng & Rahman Siddikur, Asia

9:25 a.m.: Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano & Stephen Gallacher, Europe, vs. Gaganjeet Bhullar & Anirban Lahiri, Asia

9:40 a.m.: Graeme McDowell & Jamie Donaldson, Europe, vs. Hyung-Sung Kim & Nicholas Fung, Asia

– Associated Press contributed

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