Asia's stars are ready to ride on the "feel-good" factor and challenge for top honors at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup which begins in Dongguan, Guandong Province, tomorrow.
Lin Wen-tang's memorable victory in Hong Kong on Sunday highlighted a memorable past few weeks for the Asian Tour which also celebrated wins from Jeev Milkha Singh and Prayad Marksaeng in Singapore and Japan, respectively.
All three players will represent their nations at Mission Hills Golf Club and confidence is running high that an Asian nation can dethrone Scotland of its World Cup crown.
"Asian players are getting strong. Anybody can win tournaments these days. This week, we'll have a good chance as well. We'll try but sometimes, you need the element of luck to win," said Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee, who is a two-time Asian No. 1.
Last year, Thongchai partnered Prayad, who is fresh off a third victory of the season in Japan at the Dunlop Phoenix Open, to finish tied 15th. The Thais will again wear coordinated colors this week in hope of enjoying a successful week.
Lin will make his Omega Mission Hills World Cup debut for Chinese Taipei where he will partner seasoned campaigner Lu Wen-teh, who is also making his first appearance at the prestigious team competition which was inaugurated in 1953.
After pulling off a memorable playoff victory at the Hong Kong Open, Lin, who has risen to 51st in world rankings, is hoping to ride on his rich vein of form to reproduce Chinese Taipei's lone victory in the World Cup dating back to 1972.
"With the success of Asian players in recent weeks, there is a feeling that we can win the big events, even this week. Our confidence is high and we've got a feel-good attitude now," said Lin, currently second on the Asian Tour's Order of Merit behind India's Singh.
Lu Liang-huan, known better as "Mr." Lu, and Hsieh Min-nan triumphed in Australia over three decades ago to spark a golf boom in Chinese Taipei and Lin and partner Lu are determined to challenge for a victory in China to help boost the flagging fortunes of professional golf back home.
Mars Pucay, who qualified for the World Cup with Angelo Que for the Philippines, believes that an Asian team could well dethrone Scotland, which will be represented by Colin Montgomerie and Alastair Forsyth.
"It's been good to see Asian players winning the big events over the last few weeks. Hopefully, Asians will win the World Cup. It's no longer impossible for us to win the big events as we've come a long way," said Pucay.
The last time an Asian team won the World Cup was in 2002 through Japan's Toshi Izawa and Shigeki Maruyama, 45 years after the nation's first triumph in the event.
Other top contenders at Mission Hills include Swedes Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson, Europe's top-ranked player in 2008, Brandt Snedeker and Ben Curtis of the US, India's Singh and Jyoti Randhawa and Chinese duo of Liang Wenchong and Zhang Lianwei.
(Agencies via Shanghai Daily November 26, 2008)