International Team member Sangmoon Bae can’t wait for his name to be called out on the first tee at the Presidents Cup come Thursday morning. Anirban Lahiri, Thongchai Jaidee and Hideki Matsuyama will be a popular quartet this week on the 12 member international team. The biggest cheers though might be reserved for Bae, who is a local hero.
“I’ll be very happy and I’ll be genuinely honoured. It will mean a lot to me,” said the Korean star, who was one of Captain Nick Price’s picks.
The 29-year-old will no doubt receive the loudest cheer with Korea hosting its first ever Presidents Cup which pits the Internationals against the United States. The Americans have been dominant in the biennial team competition, winning eight of the first 10 editions.
Bae, a former Asian Tour multiple winner and now a two-time PGA TOUR champion, is looking forward to the home support, especially when he has won twice at this week’s venue, the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club, on the domestic Tour.
“It’s really good to be back. I have a good energy level. Personally, since I’m very familiar with the course, I have very high confidence,” said Moon, who is the third Korean after K.J. Choi and Y.E. Yang to feature in the Presidents Cup.
“This really means a lot, because we represent the International Team. And it’s the first time (I am) playing in the Presidents Cup. I’ve got to focus on my game and you know, just make a lot of birdies. I really want to help my team win.”
He is keen to partner Korean-born New Zealander Danny Lee, whom he has forged a strong friendship on the PGA TOUR.
“For fourball, I would like to play with Danny. Whoever I play with, whether I make the points on Thursday or Saturday, as long as I get to contribute to my team, I will very happy,” said Bae, being forthright about his preferences.
“I met Danny in 2007 and ever since then, we’ve played a lot together. We had lots of dialogue and we share a lot of things in common. We live nearby and also play together a lot often because of that factor.”
All 12 members of the International Team met with captain Nick Price and other backroom staff members for the first time on Monday night and Bae said the team room was buzzing.
“We talked a lot. It was a very light-hearted meeting. A lot of people had a lot of dialogue and interaction. We joked around a bit. But mostly we talked about how we could have a good playing partner, and the leadership also put a lot of thought into making the best pairings. I expect all our team members to play a good game,” he said.
“More than anything, I think we were able to build rapport as friends and as a team; that we often talked about how we could pair up. I think we can build each other’s confidence and determination.”
He hopes a strong showing at the Presidents Cup will spur young Korean golfers to shoot for the stars, like how he was inspired by Choi and Yang, the only Asian to date to win a Major championship.
Moon was also delighted the International Team includes players from four different Asian nations, namely from India (Anirban Lahiri), Thailand (Thongchai Jaidee), Japan (Hideki Matsuyama) and Korea.
“I guess this is a good sign that a lot of Asian players are getting highlighted, and it’s great to see players from Korea, Thailand, Japan and India are playing here. For me as a Korean, I also have this vision that a lot more Korean players will be debuting and will be showcased in some of the tournaments. I wish that not only the Korean female players, but also Korean male players will get a lot of spotlight. I hope this becomes a good transition, a turning point for all of us.”