The adage goes, ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed’. Team Asia captain Arjun Atwal revealed on Tuesday that he sought Woods’ advice on how to manage so many different personalities and set pairings. ‘I pretty much picked Tiger’s brain a little bit because we are really close,’ he told reporters. ‘I saw Davis (Love III) at a range somewhere and I told him that I was captaining. Not like calling them every day and bothering them. Just a few things to get an idea of what to deal with and what to expect.’
Tiger picked up his clat as a master strategist and drew great reviews from captains and players at the 2016 Ryder Cup and ’17 Presidents Cup for his commitment and attention to detail before and during the events. At the EurAsia Cup, Atwal is tasked with managing a group that plays on the PGA, European, Japanese and Asian tours. ‘Like (Woods) said, I have players from all over,’ Atwal said to the press. ‘So I’m trying to get all these guys together in these two days to gel, and that’s pretty hard to do when a few don’t really speak English that well and you need to get even more work done. It’s been a little bit of a challenge, but it’s fun as well. It’s all good,’ he added.
The Team Asia Captain turned to his close friend Tiger Woods for a word of advice soon after being appointed the captain for the third edition of the EurAsia Cup. Woods’ experience of playing in the Ryder Cup and being the vice-captain at events like Ryder Cup and President’s Cup, was what he was looking for and this week that could well be put into use. Atwal told the press, ‘I was kind of surprised they asked me. To represent this team is truly an honour. It’s a lot of fun. I got to meet some of the guys that I didn’t really know that well today and everyone is having a great time in the team room, on the golf course and that’s what I want it to be like. It’s been great.’
When grilled as to if he sought advice or picked anybody’s brains after being chosen captain, Atwal said, ‘Yeah, a little, just to see what to expect in this type of tournament and format. I pretty much picked Tiger’s brain a little bit because we are really close. I saw Davis (Love III) at a range somewhere and I kind of told him that I was captaining. So, yeah, a few guys but nothing, not like calling them every day and bothering them. Just a few things just to get an idea of what to deal with and what to expect. That was all.’
The newly appointed captain spoke to the press reporters, about the pairings and how to pair up players. ‘You’ve got to understand, with my team, like he (Tiger) said. I have players from all over. There’s two guys playing in Japan, two or three guys playing on the PGA Tour, two on The European Tour, four or five on the Asian Tour. So I’m trying to get all these guys together in these two days, to gel, and that’s pretty hard to do when a few don’t really speak English that well and you need to get even more work done. So for me, it has been a little bit of a challenge but it’s fun, as well. It’s all good.’
Arjun Atwal is likely to field his countrymen, Anirban Lahiri and SSP Chawrasia together, as also the Japanese duo, Hideto Tanihara and Yuta Ikeda. But the pairings will be made known on Thursday. Kiradech Aphibarnrat and SSP Chawrasia will be the key members for Asia. European captain Thomas Bjorn, who will also be the captain at the Ryder Cup, leads one of the strongest European teams in the event.
Atwal told the press, ‘Here’s nothing in golf that brings out the best in everything as team events; as the players, the fans, TV, all think that this is a wonderful event to play in and be part of…The Ryder Cup is a special event. The Presidents Cup is growing and growing every year, and it’s a special event in its own right. Now here (EurAsia) is an event that has all those potentials. Golf in Asia is growing dramatically and the amount of players that are coming out of Asia in world golf shows where golf is going for the future, and that makes this event have a very good place in the game.’ Atwal, who last won on the Asian Tour in Dubai Open in 2014, also lost the 2017 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open in a play-off barely five weeks ago. Asked if enjoyed being the captain or would he rather have played the event, Atwal smiled and said, ‘Captain. That’s easier.’
Despite this new role of captaincy, Atwal still continues his own career as a player on Asian Tour, which is the role with which, he first started almost two decades ago. Coming close to a win was a big boost and that confidence is what he will use to drive his young and ambitious Asian Team. Tiger Woods could give Team Asia a slight advantage at this week’s EurAsia Cup.