Bangkok, Thailand: An innovative new event will be staged at the award-winning Amata Spring Country Club in December.
The Amata Friendship Cup presented by Toyota will see a team of Thailand’s top men and women professional and amateur golfers, take on an equal team of Japan’s top players.
A Golf Course Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation, Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi has a rich heritage in bringing headline events to the nation. The Amata Friendship Cup (December 21-23) will enhance the club’s position as one of the region’s most prominent golfing establishments.
“Our vision has focused on creating a new dynamic event that will positively impact golf in Thailand. The narrative behind men and women, professionals and amateurs competing together in their national colours is a compelling one in our minds,” said Arsa Sarasin, Chairman of the Tournament Committee and Chairman of the Board of Amata Spring Country Club.
He added: “Our ambition is threefold; celebrate and embrace the special relationship between Thailand and Japan; provide an exciting opportunity for young up and coming golfers to compete side by side with their heroes; and, finally, allow Asia’s best men and women to compete together for the same prize.”
While the Thai team will be led by Boonchu Ruangkit and Virada Nirapathpongporn, the Japanese contingent will be spearheaded by Naomichi ‘Joe’ Ozaki and Miho Koga.
Sarasin added: “We are grateful to our Captains for accepting the challenge of bringing together their teams and representing their respective nations. Each in their own right is a great champion and we are honoured that they have joined us for this inaugural competition.”
The Captains will be responsible for team selection, managing pairings and representing the best interests of their respective nations.
“This is one of the proudest days of my career and one I believe will have a great impact for golf, bringing together mixed teams in this exciting nation versus nation team format,” said Boonchu.
“We have some of the most exciting players on all Tours around the world right now and to bring them together as one team will be something every golf and sports fan in Thailand and Japan will love seeing,” added Virada.
The Thailand Captains first picks are Kiradech Aphibarnrat, world number 33, Thongchai Jaidee, women’s world number two Ariya Jutanugarn and her sister, world number 12 Moriya, along with Pornanong Phatlum, runner-up at this month’s Ricoh Women’s British Open, and amateur sensation Atthaya Thitikul.
Ozaki and Koya also unveiled a powerful team, including world number 40 Satoshi Kodaira, along with Japan’s top female and world number 15 player Nasa Hataoka. They will be joined by the current first and third-placed players on the Japan Tour in Ryuko Tokimatsu and Kodai Ichihara, and PGA and European Tour regular Hideto Tanihara.
“We are ready for this exciting challenge and will be doing all we can to ensure we do our country proud and put up a strong performance,” said Ozaki, a 32-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour.
Toyota Motors Thailand is the Presenting Partner, continuing not only its long association with championship golf, but also its position as an innovator of major sports and entertainment events in Thailand.
Other sponsorship partners that have already committed to being a part of the event include Amata Corporation, SCB, SCG, Singha and Ricoh.
The event format will follow that of the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup, a three-day competition comprising team-based and individual sessions, with each team amassing points based on the outcome of each match. The event will also be accompanied by on-site entertainment available to all members of the community.
“The opportunity to see men and women, professionals and amateurs competing on the same teams will make for compelling viewing,” said David Townend, Tournament Director and General Manager of Amata Spring Country Club. “The equality narrative the event carries and the feel-good factor of celebrating a superb friendship between great nations, and the togetherness golf events bring, will mark the occasion as one of the most progressive events in recent times.”