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Laycock relishes Dongfeng team challenge

Scott LaycockHONG KONG, Nov 16 - Australian Scott Laycock will don two hats when an Asia-Pacific select side takes on Team China in the Dongfeng Nissan Cup in Shenzhen later this month.

Laycock will be in the thick of the action as a player in the Ryder Cup-style team event at the CTS Tycoon Golf Club from November 30 to December 2, and also serve as deputy to team captain Peter Thomson.

It is a role Laycock is used to having been a key member of the 12-man Asia-Pacific team that narrowly won the inaugural edition of the competition -- and he is again looking forward to the challenge.

The tournament was held for the first time last year when the Asia-Pacific won 12 1/2 to 11 1/2 on a gripping final day of singles after the teams were level 3 - 3 following the fourball matches and 6 - 6 following the foursomes.

"My memories of last year's event are mainly excitement with the standard of golf played," said Laycock, "and one of my goals for this season was to play again if possible. "

Laycock, 41, who hails from Melbourne and has been professional since 1992, is still seeking his first win on OneAsia, although he came close last year when he finished joint runner-up to Kim Bi-o at the Nanshan China Masters following a four-way play-off.

He spent a year on the U.S. PGA Tour after graduating through Q-School in 2002, and has proved he is a good team player by virtue of victory in the Hugo Boss Foursomes with England's Ed Fryatt on the Asian PGA Tour in 1997.

"Growing up in Oz we play matchplay quite a bit in amateur golf, but last year I wasn't sure how much matchplay experience the other Asia-Pacific players had," Laycock said.

"So Peter and I spoke with them to discuss some tactics for the fourball and foursomes matches, to pass on a bit of experience."

Laycock says when it comes down to the singles, the competitive nature of professional golfers comes to the fore.

"No-one likes to lose," he said. "We are all out there giving our best."

Laycock, who has won on the Japan Tour and twice on the Australasian Tour -- including the Surf Coast Knockout last year -- has played in three Majors: the Open Championship in 2002 and 2007, and the PGA Championship in 2002.

A multi-talented athlete who also represented his state at soccer as a junior, Laycock has 16 runner-up finishes in his professional career and also boasts 15 holes-in-one in all golf --  including an ace during the GS Caltex Maekyung Open in Seoul in May.

"I feel privileged to be selected in the Asia-Pacific team again and I felt Peter chose me to be vice-captain  because I made an effort to get to know the players  -- and also my ability to pronounce their names correctly," he joked.

"Being a 'veteran' and vice-captain, I felt it was my duty to get to know the players individually and make them feel comfortable in a team environment.

"I made an effort to have meals with all the players and their partners to make them comfortable, and for us to all feel like a team."

Laycock said he expects Team China to come out with all guns blazing after their narrow loss last year.

"The Chinese players are getting stronger every year with the help of quality coaching and by playing internationally on strong tours like OneAsia," he said.

"With the leading Chinese players competing well in Japan and on OneAsia, it has to motivate the younger ones to strive for the same."

Related stories:

15/11/2012 - Asia-Pacific team blends youth with experience
08/11/2012 - China picks strong team to tackle Asia-Pacific
31/10/2012 - China's best to take on rest of Asia-Pacific