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Asia name Captain's Picks for Dynasty Cup

Asia have selected Chinese stalwarts Zhang Lian-wei and Liang Wen-chong along with Thailand's Thammanoon Srirot and Amandeep Johl of India as captain's picks for their Visa Dynasty Cup defence against Japan.

Non-playing captain Hsieh Min-nan believes the addition of the four wild cards to the eight automatic qualifiers headed by current Asian Tour number one Thongchai Jaidee will mean Asia will be at full strength at Mission Hills Golf Club, China from April 15-17.

After a nine-point defeat two years ago, Japan will bring out their top guns, including three-time US PGA Tour winner Shigeki Maruyama, Toshimitsu Izawa and Shingo Katayama, for the second Ryder Cup-style showdown but Hsieh is confident Asia will have the firepower to match their rivals.

"I am optimistic of retaining the Visa Dynasty Cup as we have the best 12 players in Asia," said Hsieh today. "The team is a wonderful reflection of the strength of golf across Asia and I'm sure the players will give it everything to beat what looks like a strong Japan line-up."

The eight automatic Asian qualifiers through a ranking system were determined after the Myanmar Open on Sunday. Thongchai, who is ranked 57th in the world, topped the list, followed by Thaworn Wiratchant (Thailand), Boonchu Ruangkit (Thailand), Charlie Wi (Korea), Jyoti Randhawa (India), Mo Joong-kyung (Korea) Prayad Marksaeng (Thailand) and Mardan Mamat (Singapore).

Thammanoon, who holed the winning putt against Japan two years ago, and Johl finished ninth and 10th on the ranking and earned Hsieh's picks as well as Chinese trailblazer Zhang, a five-time winner in Asia, and Liang.

The 48-year-old Boonchu, Mamat, Mo and Johl will be making their debuts in the Visa Dynasty Cup in April. Mamat won in India for his career breakthrough last season and will also be the first player from Singapore to feature in the Visa Dynasty Cup.

Hsieh said that the 12 players have won a combined 43 titles on the Asian Tour with Thongchai and Randhawa being past and present Asian number ones.

"As we will defend our title at Mission Hills in China, Zhang could well be an influential figure once again for our team. He has won five times in Asia and rose to the occasion two years ago by winning all his three matches. I'm counting on Zhang to be our pillar of strength again.

"Liang has also matured into a top-class player since his 100 per cent record in 2003. He is playing some of his best golf at the moment with two top-10s in European Tour-sanctioned events recently and also enjoyed a strong season in Japan last year.

"I believe Amandeep is a wonderful addition as a wild card. He finished second in the birdie category in Asia last year which shows his knack for attacking play. He is a fierce competitor with a never-say-die attitude and I'm sure he will shine in the matchplay competition," said Hsieh, a winner of multiple titles in Japan and Asia during his glory years in the 1960s and 1970s.

The inclusion of Thammanoon, who won the Lowest Putting Average last season, was expected as he performed well in Japan in 2004 with three top-10 finishes and lifted the Tianjin TEDA Open presented by Rolls Royce on the Asian Tour. "Thammanoon is one of the best putters in the game and is a tremendous competitor," said Hsieh.

The Visa Dynasty Cup promises to showcase the best of Asian golf to the world. The matchplay event will see six foursomes matches being played on the first day, followed by another six fourball matches on day two and 12 singles on the final day.

Asian Team: Thongchai Jaidee (Tha), Thaworn Wiratchant (Tha), Boonchu Ruangkit (Tha), Charlie Wi (Kor), Jyoti Randhawa (Ind), Mo Joong-kyung (Kor), Prayad Marksaeng (Tha), Mardan Mamat (Sin), Zhang Lian-wei (PRC – captain's pick), Liang Wen-chong (PRC – captain's pick), Thammanoon Srirot (Tha – captain's pick) and Amandeep Johl (Ind – captain's pick)

 

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