Willett tops European qualifiers

Danny Willett ©Getty
Danny Willett ©Getty

KUALA LUMPUR: European captain Darren Clarke unveiled his ten automatic qualifiers to take on Asia in the second edition of the EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM on Monday, with Race to Dubai runner-up Danny Willett and Ryder Cup stars Victor Dubuisson and Ross Fisher included in the line-up.

World Number 20 Willett, who challenged Rory McIlroy to the wire in season-long Race to Dubai after two victories in the 2015 campaign, is one of five Englishman to qualify as the leading ten available players from the final 2015 Race to Dubai rankings.

The 28-year-old is joined by Fisher, who has plenty of match play pedigree after representing Europe in the 2010 Ryder Cup and playing in the Seve Trophy twice; alongside Dubuisson who was a revelation in his Ryder Cup debut at Gleneagles last year, notching 2 ½ points out of a possible three, after representing Europe in the inaugural EurAsia Cup earlier that year.

Joining them are two-time European Tour winner Chris Wood, who also featured in the Seve Trophy in 2009 and 2013; Andy Sullivan, a three-time winner in 2015 who pushed McIlroy all the way in last week’s DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, and 21 year old Matthew Fitzpatrick, who recorded ten top ten finishes in his rookie European Tour season, including a brilliant breakthrough win in the British Masters supported by Sky Sports.

The quintet is join by Ireland’s Shane Lowry, who claimed the biggest win of his career to date with victory in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in August; Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, who captured his third European Tour title in July’s Alstom Open de France; four-time European Tour winner Søren Kjeldsen of Denmark, who lifted the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation in May and who has featured in two Seve Trophy matches, and Sweden’s Kristoffer Broberg, who claimed his maiden European Tour title in the BMW Masters two weeks ago.

Clarke will add his two captain’s picks to the final line-up in two weeks’ time to compete against Jeev Milkha Singh’s Asia team at Glenmarie Golf and Country Club, in Kuala Lumpur, from January 15-17, 2016.

The Northern Irishman said: “I am delighted with the make-up of the team. It may be a relatively young one, but it is extremely strong and packed with experience. All the players have tasted success and are very talented so there is every reason to go to Kuala Lumpur with confidence.

“The EurAsia Cup also offers many of our players the opportunity to enhance their prospects of making next September’s Ryder Cup team. It’s also a good chance for me to see how comfortable they are with and in a team environment.

“Team Europe have always had a very strong team ethos and I will expect nothing less this time. We know the strength of the Asian side and the difficulty of the task facing us, but I also know our team will be up to the challenge.”

Clarke’s team will attempt to win the EurAsia Cup for the first time after the inaugural contest, also played at Glenmarie Golf and Country Club in March 2014, ended in a thrilling 10-10 draw.

EUROPEAN SELECTION – ‪‎EURASIACup‬ presented by DRB HICOM (based on the final Race to Dubai rankings)
1) Danny Willett ENG (#2)
2) Shane Lowry IRE (#5)
3) Andy Sullivan ENG (#8)
4) Bernd Wiesberger AUT (#9)
5) Victor Dubuisson FRA (#11)
6) Matthew Fitzpatrick ENG (#12)
7) Kristoffer Broberg SWE (#14)
8) Søren Kjeldsen DEN (#15)
9) Chris Wood ENG (#17)
10) Ross Fisher ENG (#19)