Europe make flying start in EurAsia Cup

Team Europe captain Darren Clarke. Picture: Getty
Team Europe captain Darren Clarke. Picture: Getty
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Darren Clarke’s Team Europe took early control of the EurAsia Cup after dominating the opening fourballs to take a 4.5-1.5 lead at the Glenmarie Golf & Country Club in Kuala Lumpur.

Clarke will lead Europe in the Ryder Cup against the United States at Hazeltine in October and had a chance to put his captaincy skills to the test in Malaysia. Europe drew first blood when Ian Poulter and Bernd Wiesberger beat Anirban Lahiri and Jeunghun Wang 4&3 and Ross Fisher and Kristoffer Broberg quickly doubled that lead, seeing off Prayad Marksaeng and KT Kim 6&4.

Asia hit back as Byeong-hun An and Thongchai Jaidee came from behind to beat Danny Willett and Matt Fitzpatrick 3&1.

Shane Lowry and Andy Sullivan restored the two-point advantage with a 2&1 win over Wu Ashun and Shingo Katayama before Soren Kjeldsen and Victor Dubuisson halved their match with Danny Chia and Nicholas Fung.

And in the final match of the day, it was more success for Europe as Chris Wood and Lee Westwood beat Kiradech Aphibarnrat and SSP Chawrasia 2&1.

Wiesberger and Poulter took the lead when the Austrian birdied the sixth, but it was after the turn where they really turned the screw, winning the 10th, 11th and 12th to all but win the match.

In the second match of the day, Fisher and Broberg took a four-hole advantage into the turn and soon made it five at the 10th.

Marksaeng and Kim got themselves back into the match as they won the 11th hole, but the European duo restored their five-hole lead when Broberg holed a long-range putt at the next, and when they also won the 14th it was all over.

Jaidee holed a monster putt from some 90 feet at the fifth hole to put Asia ahead in match two, but Englishmen Willett and Fitzpatrick bounced back to take a two-hole lead into the turn.

But An and Jaidee were unfazed, winning the 11th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th holes to seal Asia’s first point.

Lowry and Sullivan had a two-hole lead at the turn before birdies at the 13th and 14th extended their advantage to four.

Katayama chipped in at the 15th before a birdie from Wu at the 16th reduced the deficit for the Asian pair, but, when the 17th hole was halved, it was another point for Europe.

Kjeldsen and Dubuisson, who was struggling with a knee injury on the back nine, halved the final hole with Chia and Fung to share the point before Westwood and Wood wrapped up a near-perfect day for Clarke and Europe.

“A three-point lead after day one, it’s a wonderful start,” admitted Clarke. “There was a lot of matches there that it could have swung either way on the back nine.

“Halfway around, Europe were leading in all the matches. I was on the radio to a few of the other guys and said, this is match play, Asia are going to come back at some stage on the back nine, and that’s exactly what they did. 
“We had a strong couple of matches and managed to finish with a very good result.”

Results (Team Asia names first)

Jeung-hun Wang (Prk) and Anirban Lahiri (Ind) lost to Ian Poulter (Eng) and Bernd Wiesberger

(Aut) 4 & 3

Byeong-Hun An (Kor) and Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) bt Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) and Daniel

Willett (Eng) 3 & 1

Nicholas Fung (Mas) and Danny Chia (Mas) halved with Victor Dubuisson (Fra) and Soren

Kjeldsen (Den)

Prayad Marksaeng (Tha) and K.T. Kim (Kor) lost to Kristoffer Broberg (Swe) Ross

Fisher (Eng) 6 & 4

Shingo Katayama (Jpn) and Wu null Ashun (Chn) lost to Andrew Sullivan (Eng) and Shane Lowry (Ire) 2

& 1

S.S.P Chawrasia (Ind) and Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) lost to Chris Wood (Eng) and Lee

Westwood (Eng) 2 & 1