Sentosa, Singapore: Thai Thongchai Jaidee and Indian Anirban Lahiri will make historic appearances at the Presidents Cup in Korea after qualifying on merit for the International Team to face the United States next month.
Lahiri, the current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader and a two-time winner this season, finished seventh on the International Team rankings while Thongchai, the only man with three Order of Merit crowns in Asia, was ninth. The top-10 players earned automatic spots in the team.
“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. But thankfully, we have the Presidents Cup for us to aim for and it is an achievement to make the team,” said Lahiri, currently ranked 40th in the world.
“I know Jeev (Milkha Singh) was really close to getting in one year when he was in the world’s top-50 and unfortunately he couldn’t due to injury. It would have done a lot of good for golf, not just in India but in Asia.
“I’m looking forward to being part of the International Team. It’ll be a massive boost for golf in the region. You get so many eyeballs and everybody in America will be watching. To be a part of something historic like that is extremely special. All I want to do is make sure that I get a point for the International Team,” added the Indian, who finished tied fifth at last month’s PGA Championship, his best career finish to date in a Major.
The evergreen Thongchai, ranked 44th in the world, has come close to making the International Team previously and was delighted to add another career highlight to his resume.
The Thai legend was the playing captain for Team Asia in the come-from-behind 10-10 draw with Team Europe in last year’s inaugural EurAsia Cup in Malaysia where he defeated Graeme McDowell in the singles. Lahiri was also part of that team, contributing two points out of three including a singles win over Victor Dubuisson.
“It’s a proud moment for me. It’ll be the first time that a Thai player will play in the Presidents Cup. 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,” said the 45-year-old, who holds 13 Asian Tour victories and has also triumphed twice on European soil.
Lahiri and Thongchai will join Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama, Branden Grace, Marc Leishman, Charl Schwartzel and Danny Lee in the International Team with captain Nick Price naming two picks later on Tuesday (US time).
The US team will consist of Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Jimmy Walker, Zach Johnson, Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar and Chris Kirk, with two more picks to be included.
The Presidents Cup will be held at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Songdo IBD, Incheon City, from October 6-11.