Team Asia will take a one-point lead over Team Europe heading into the final day singles of the EurAsia Cup at Glennmarie Golf & Country Club.
The teams ended today’s foursomes matches with three wins apiece, leaving the overall score at 6½ to 5½ in favour of Arjun Atwal’s battling Asian side. Team Asia has never led at any stage over their continental rivals in the history of the event but after holding the lead for two days, Atwal is confident his players can ink their place in the record books.
“I absolutely believe we can win the EurAsia Cup. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here. That has always been my belief since I took up this captaincy. I’m not surprised or shocked by our results so far. Because if you look at my players, they are fantastic and they are all winners,” said Atwal.
The day’s proceedings did not exactly go to plan for Team Asia as they lost their opening two matches at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club.
The Indian pair of Anirban Lahiri and S.S.P. Chawrasia suffered a 3&2 defeat at the hands of Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and England’s Tommy Fleetwood in the first match while Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Korea’s Byeonghun An went down 2&1 to England’s Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton in the second match.
Belgium’s Thomas Pieters and England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick thought they had struck another fatal blow to Team Asia’s EurAsia Cup title aspirations when they won 3&2.
But the formidable partnership of Malaysia’s Gavin Green and Japan’s Yuta Ikeda gave Team Asia a huge psychological boost when they beat Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello and France’s Alexander Levy by one hole.
“They have been fantastic. Both of them have been so good and they have inspired everybody else. I’m very pleased with their pairing and everything that has been leading up to it and the way they have delivered,” said Atwal.
“I’m sure because it’s going to be a fair fight overall. It’s going to be an important day for us tomorrow and I think we are pretty comfortable with this course, so we’re hoping for a good day,” said Green, who has picked up two points out of two so far with Ikeda.
That point sparked a comeback for Asia as Thailand’s Phachara Khongwatmai and Japan’s Hideto Tanihara showed their putting prowess to bring down Sweden’s Alex Noren and Ireland’s Paul Dunne 2&1.
China’s Li Haotong and Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung then completed another memorable day for Team Asia when they won another point by beating England’s Paul Casey and Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger 3&1.
Team Europe’s captain Thomas Bjorn knows of his tough task ahead of the singles matches and is determined to put up a stiff challenge.
“We live to fight another day tomorrow and we’ve got 12 strong players, as I said, all week. I believe in all 12 of them, as I always will. We’ve got to go out and put some blue on that board and try and win the singles. It’s as simple as that. We are slightly disappointed with the outcome today but I’m sure we can rise to what’s ahead of us tomorrow,” said Bjorn.
Foursomes Results (Europe first, winners in bold):
Henrik STENSON / Tommy FLEETWOOD vs Anirban LAHIRI / SSP CHAWRASIA – 3&2
Paul CASEY / Tyrrell HATTON vs Byeong Hun AN / Kiradech APHIBARNRAT – 2&1
Alexander LEVY / Rafa CABRERA BELLO vs Gavin GREEN / Yuta IKEDA – 1-up
Matthew FITPATRICK / Thomas PIETERS vs Poom SAKSANSIN / Sunghoon KANG – 3&2
Alex NOREN / Paul DUNNE vs Hideto TANIHARA / Phachara KHONGWATMAI – 2&1
Bernd WIESBERGER / Ross FISHER vs Haotong LI / Nicholas FUNG – 3&1