Golf: No pressure for Fung

Golf: No pressure for Fung
Malaysia's Nicholas Fung (right) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (far right) hope to win Team Asia win the EurAsia Cup.

He shifted in his seat, shrugged his shoulders and then folded his arms.

Nicholas Fung looked distinctly uncomfortable up on the stage at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club, and understandably so.

The 23-year-old Malaysian, along with Korea's Kim Hyung Sung, 33, had just been drawn into the fifth and final fourball match in Thursday's opening day of the EurAsia Cup - against world No. 14 Graeme McDowell and Welshman Jamie Donaldson.

The match-up looked potentially the most lopsided contest of the five (see box on top), a fact emphasised by Team Europe captain Miguel Angel Jimenez, who immediately turned to his Asia counterpart Thongchai Jaidee after the above pairs were pitted against each other.

Flashing his trademark broad grin, the Spaniard taunted in jest: "Now you're in trouble!"

But Fung insisted that being the clear underdogs will be a boon; it would heap pressure on the British duo, while allowing him and his partner to flourish.

"They are top golf stars and we're the underdogs and, because of that, there's totally no pressure. Even if we lose, we won't be blamed," Fung told The New Paper.

"And that will help my game, because I've nothing to think about, except to go out there and play my game."

Relax was the buzzword for Jaidee, who said it no less than four times at the post-draw press conference.

It appears that Fung is poised to do exactly what the veteran Thai called for - to relax and play the game.

"I don't think we're going to lose the last match (Kim and Fung), because both of these guys play very steady," said Jaidee, who will be paired with compatriot Kiradech Aphibarnrat against Spaniards Jimenez and Pablo Larrazabal in the opening match.

On Thursday will also see a Denmark-Japan match-up, with Thomas Bjorn and Thorbjorn Olesen taking on Koumei Oda and Hideto Tanihara.

"The first four matches will be very close; hole by hole, shot by shot. I don't think I can predict how many points we're going to win," said Jaidee.

His prediction of tight matches is one that is shared by Bjorn.

Worst Thing

"The worst thing to do this week is to underestimate any of the 20 players here, everybody is very capable," said the 2013 Omega European Masters winner.

Kim finished second on the Japan Golf Tour Order of Merit last year, and made his debut at a Major at the British Open as well.

While Fung is more a talented prospect than established pro, the Sabah native enjoyed a fruitful 2013, winning the Asian Development Tour Order of Merit, jumping more than 1,000 spots to 239th in the world by the end of the year.

Fung wants to climb even higher; his dream is to play at the US Masters - and win it.

And his climb into the big leagues could start on Thursday.

Fung did not flinch or fidget as he said: "Before I step out onto the first tee, I'll be saying inside my head: I'm the underdog here, so you'd better not allow me to beat you."


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