Captain Thomas Bjorn hailed Team Europe’s “will to win” as they produced a strong final-day performance in coming from behind heading into the singles to make a successful defence of the EurAsia Cup in Malaysia.
Helped by victories from the last two Scottish Open champions, Alex Noren and Rafa Cabrera Bello, Europe triumphed 8.5-3.5 in the final session at Glenmarie Golf & Country Club in Kuala Lumpur to run out 14-10 winners.
Belgian Thomas Pieters clinched the triumph with an impressive victory over former BMW PGA champion Ben An, leaving Bjorn feeling a happy man in the end after the first two days hadn’t gone to plan in Europe’s warm up event for the Ryder Cup in Paris later in the year.
“It was a great performance today from every single one of them,” said the Dane. “They came off the golf course yesterday and there was a determination and a will of wanting to win this.
“To then go out and do the job the way they did today shows a lot about the character of these 12 guys and it shows a lot about the character of European golf and it shows a lot about what we are.
“I think that’s what I take away from this week - 12 great guys, 12 guys that wants to go places in the game of golf.”
Europe had gone into the singles trailing by a point but Noren gave them the ideal start as the 2016 Scottish Open champion bounced back from two defeats in the match to beat Nicholas Fung 4&2 in the top match.
Cabrera Bello, winner of last year’s Scottish Open at Dundonald Links, then beat Gavin Green 4&3 before Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood made it three in a row for Bjorn’s men with a 2&1 victory against S.S.P Chawrasia.
Poom Saksansin got Asia’s first point of the day when he beat Paul Casey by one hole but 2016 Open champion Henrik Stenson soon put another blue point on the board, beating Hideto Tanihara 2&1.
Bernd Wiesberger and Alex Levy then closed out their wins against Phachara Khongwatmai and Kiradech Aphibarnrat respectively to put Europe within a single point of victory, allowing Pieters to seal the deciding point.
Englishman Tyrrell Hatton then beat Anirban Lahiri 2&1 before Matthew Fitzpatrick halved his match against Sunghoon Kang. Asia won the final two matches, with Li Haotong and Yuta Ikeda beating Paul Dunne and Ross Fisher respectively, but the day belonged to the men in blue who once again take the trophy back to Europe.
“To sit on the sidelines and watch them do what they do best has been a tremendous pleasure,” added Bjorn. “It’s been wonderful to see and I learned a lot about myself and about these 12 players this week, and today their performance was outstanding.
“It’s an emotional roller-coaster ride for three days. You live every shot with your players and you are missing putts, holing putts, winning holes, losing holes.
“You live every moment out there and you’ve got an idea of what all 12 are doing. When you’re a player, you play your own golf and concentrate on what’s right in front of you.
“These kind of events always become closer than you think sometimes, and that’s always good to know. When you go out there as a team, you’ve got to play.
“You play for very few points the first two days and then you play for a lot of points on Sunday, and that’s the way these events are.
“It can swing very much on the last day and we showed today that if you are good and strong on Sundays, you can win these things.”
(Team Europe names first)
Alex Noren bt Nicholas Fung 4&2
Paul Casey lost to Poom Saksansin one hole
Tommy Fleetwood bt S S P Chawrasia 2&1
Henrik Stenson bt Hideto Tanihara 2&1
Rafa Cabrera Bello bt Gavin Green 4&3
Bernd Wiesberger bt Phachara Khongwatmai 2&1
Alexander Levy bt Kiradech Aphibarnrat 3&1
Thomas Pieters bt Ben An one hole
Tyrell Hatton bt Anirban Lahiri 2&1
Matthew Fitzpatrick halved with Sunghoon Kang
Ross Fisher lost to Yuta Ikeda one hole
Paul Dunne lost to Haotong Li 3&1