Amata Friendship Cup breaks new ground for golf

Golf will see a fresh new swing when the inaugural Amata Friendship Cup presented by Toyota tees off at Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi, Thailand this December 21-23. The innovative event pits Thailand’s top men and women professionals team as well as the country’s leading amateurs against their Japanese counterparts over three days of matchplay, similar to the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup.

The event was unveiled yesterday at Amata Spring Country Club, when the team captains were announced – Boonchu Ruangkit and Virada Nirapathpongporn for Team Thailand, and Naomichi ‘Joe’ Ozaki and Miho Koga for Japan.

“Our vision has focused on creating a new dynamic event that will positively impact golf in Thailand. The narrative behind men and women, professionals and amateurs competing together in their national colours is a compelling one in our minds,” said tournament committee chairman Arsa Sarasin, who is also chairman of the board for Amata Spring. “Our ambition is threefold; celebrate and embrace the special relationship between Thailand and Japan; provide an exciting opportunity for young up and coming golfers to compete side by side with their heroes; and, finally, allow Asia’s best men and women to compete together for the same prize.

“We are grateful to our captains for accepting the challenge of bringing together their teams and representing their respective nations. Each in their own right is a great champion and we are honoured that they have joined us for this inaugural competition.”

Team Japan captains Miho Koga and Naomichi ‘Joe’ Ozaki with Team Thailand captains Boonchu Ruangkit and Virada Nirapathpongporn

The Thailand captains’ first picks were also unveiled at the press conference – current Thai men’s No 1 Kiradech Aphibarnrat, the legendary Thongchai Jaidee, Women’s World No 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and her sister Moriya, their fellow LPGA star Pornanong Phatlum and teen amateur sensation Atthaya Thitikul.

Ozaki and Koya unveiled a powerful team, including world No 40 Satoshi Kodaira and Japan’s top lady professional Nasa Hataoka. They will be joined by the current No 1 and No 3 players on the Japan Golf Tour, Ryuko Tokimatsu and Kodai Ichihara, and PGA and European Tour regular Hideto Tanihara.

The three-day competition will also see on-site entertainment, available to all members of the community.

“The opportunity to see men and women, professionals and amateurs competing on the same teams will make for compelling viewing,” said David Townend, tournament director and general manager of Amata Spring. “The equality narrative the event carries and the feel-good factor of celebrating a superb friendship between great nations, and the togetherness golf events bring, will mark the occasion as one of the most progressive events in recent times.”

For details, visit and follow @AmataFriendsCup on Twitter, and @AmataFriendshipCup on Facebook and Instagram.

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