Asia keeps 1-point lead at EurAsia Cup
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Asia staged a late comeback to maintain its slim lead over defending champion Europe, 6 ½ to 5 ½, on the second day of the EurAsia Cup on Saturday.
“We came out of the session at 3-3 which wasn’t what we were looking for, but we live to fight another day,” Europe captain Thomas Bjorn said. “We have got to go out and put some blue on the board and try to win the singles.”
Europe took the lead at Glenmarie Golf and Country Club after winning its first three foursomes on Saturday, but Asia pulled level before Li Haotong and Nicholas Fung beat Europe’s Ross Fisher and Bernd Wiesberger 3 and 1 for the lead.
“No one was four or five down after six holes. When you’re one or two down in matchplay, you can easily flip that, and they did,” Asia captain Arjun Atwal said. “If you asked me if I’m surprised or shocked, I’m not. My guys are all champions.”
After trailing 3 ½ to 2 ½ on Friday’s fourballs, Europe drew level through the forceful pairing of Tommy Fleetwood and Henrik Stenson.
The pair upstaged India’s S.S.P. Chawrasia and Anirban Lahiri courtesy of seven birdies, including a five-foot birdie putt from Fleetwood which sealed the win on the 16th hole.
Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton then gave Europe the lead with a 2-and-1 victory over Kiradech Aphibarnrat and An Byeong-hun, before Matthew Fitzpatrick and Thomas Pieters doubled the advantage by beating Poom Saksansin and Kang Sung-hoon 3 and 2. At this stage, it looked like Europe was ready to pull away.
But Gavin Green, who clinched the Asian Tour Order of Merit last month, and Yuta Ikeda started the comeback, beginning with a 1-hole victory over Rafa Cabrera Bello and Alexander Levy.
The pair, who had beaten Pieters and Fitzpatrick on Friday, gained the upper hand on the 17th when the Europeans bogeyed.
Buoyed by that win, Phachara Khongwatmai and Hideto Tanihara combined to beat Paul Dunne and Alex Noren 2 and 1 to draw the teams level after going two up at the 12th hole, and maintaining par for the point.
Li and Fung regained Asia’s lead by brushing aside Fisher and Wiesberger 3 and 1.
There are 12 singles matches on Sunday.
Asia is seeking its first win in the third EurAsia Cup.