Asia fightback maintains one-point lead over Europe after day two at EurAsia Cup
By Mathieu Wood
Last Updated: 13/01/18 9:13am
Europe claimed the first three points on the board in Saturday’s foursomes but will have to come from behind in Sunday’s singles after a late fightback from Asia in the EurAsia Cup.
Scores and schedule
Thomas Bjorn's side started Saturday's fourballs in fine fashion with Open champion Henrik Stenson partnering Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood to victory over Anirban Lahiri and S.S.P. Chawrasia in the top match and claiming the first three points of the day but were unable to stop a strong recovery from Arjun Atwal's side, who won the three final matches to finish on the course.
The biennial matchplay event, being held at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, offers Bjorn's European team, defending the EurAsia Cup, ideal preparation ahead of September's Ryder Cup at Le Golf National against holders the United States.
After a disappointing opening day's foursomes which saw Asia hold a 3½-2½ advantage, Bjorn decided to make four partnership changes in his make-up for Saturday's action - Fitzpatrick with Pieters and Alex Noren alongside British Masters winner Paul Dunne stayed together - while Asia's line-up had no changes.
Fleetwood and Stenson delivered an assured performance to secure a 3&2 victory over Anirban Lahiri and S.S.P. Chawrasia in the lead match with a strong front nine which saw the European duo pull 3up at the turn before securing victory at the par five 16th.
The second match saw Paul Casey, who had teamed up with Fleetwood to a commanding opening day foursomes win, repeat the feat with countryman Tyrrell Hatton with a battling 2&1 success over Byeong Hun An and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
Europe's third victory of the day came in the fourth foursomes match as Fitzpatrick and Pieters carded four successive birdies from the 5th to take control against Poom Saksansin and Sunghoon Kang, who had both impressed together in seeing off Alexander Levy and Stenson on Friday.
Atwal would have been worried that the scoreline was running away from the hosts but their comeback began with the match of the day as Yuta Ikeda and Gavin Green won three of the final four holes against Levy and Rafa Cabrera Bello to secure a winning point on the 18th green.
The penultimate match to finish saw Hideto Tanihara and burgeoning talent Phachara Khongwatmai defeat Noren and Dunne for the second day running - this time winning 2&1 - as the Europeans failed to win a hole over the back nine in a tight contest.
The anchor match saw Bernd Wiesberger partner Englishman Ross Fisher, a winner on Friday, against Haotong Li and Nicholas Fung but despite moving 2up at the par five 6th green Asia responded quickly and Li continued his strong putting display from the opening day's play to secure a 3&1 win and maintain Asia's slender advantage heading into Sunday's singles.