EurAsia Cup: Tommy Fleetwood, Paul Casey lead Europe's bid
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 11/01/18 12:10pm
Tommy Fleetwood and Paul Casey will lead Europe's bid to retain the EurAsia Cup as they head out in the opening match of the contest in Kuala Lumpur.
European No 1 Fleetwood will partner the three-time Ryder Cup star in Friday's first fourballs match against Byeong-hun An and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, with Casey playing in his first team competition for Europe since 2008.
Fellow Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick has been paired with 2016 Ryder Cup team-mate Thomas Pieters in match two against recent Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Galvin Green and Japan's Yuta Ikeda.
Debutants Alex Noren and Paul Dunne take on Hideto Tanihara and teenage Thai star Phachara Khongwatmai in the third match, with 2016 Open champion Henrik Stenson partnering Alex Levy against Sunghoon Kang and Poom Saksansin.
Spain's Rafa Cabrera Bello and Austria's Bernd Wiesberger face rising Chinese ace Li Haotong and Nicholas Fung, while the final match of the day sees in-form Englishmen Tyrrell Hatton and Ross Fisher face the Indian pairing of SSP Chawrasia and Aniban Lahiri.
Wiesberger, Fitzpatrick and Fisher are the only three players who featured in Europe's resounding 13-point victory two years ago, and captain Thomas Bjorn has backed his team to deliver again in Malaysia.
"We knew that the pairings from the Asian team would be strong, so we respect what we're up against and we concentrate on ours," said Bjorn. "We've got some very strong pairings, and I've got all confidence in these 12 guys. You know, this is a team of 12 and I believe in all 12 of them equally.
"You look at stature of a player and you look at form. Most guys come in here from a period away and then you look at stats and then you look at finishes. You've got to take all of that in, because you can't just go on the stats if people don't particularly gel well together; but you can't also just go on friendship if it doesn't make sense on the golf course.
"I believe we are off to a good start with the pairings we have this week. I've worked close with the stats guys and I've talked to the players, I've talked to the senior players and I've talked to the young ones but that's a natural thing of it. I think we're in a good place with the pairings we have."
The second day will again featured all 12 players in each team over six foursomes (alternate shot) matches, and the contest concludes with 12 singles matches on Sunday.
Set your alarms: Day one coverage of the EurAsia Cup starts at 3:30am on Sky Sports Golf.