Thomas Bjorn’s Team Europe dominated the final day singles to retain the EurAsia Cup by 14-10 at Glenmarie Golf & Country Club.
Trailing 6½ to 5½ going into the singles, the powerful Europeans stormed to a commanding lead early on with a sea of blue on the leaderboard. Thomas Pieters’ halve against Byeonghun An in the eighth match gave Team Europe the 12½ points they needed to win the trophy outright for the second time in three editions.
“It was a great performance today from every single one of them, they came off the golf course yesterday and there was a determination and a will of wanting to win this,” said Bjorn.
“From there, 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,” added the Dane.
Alex Noren of Sweden delivered the day’s first point with a convincing 4&2 win over Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung. Asia’s number one Gavin Green of Malaysia then fell victim to Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello 4&3
Europe’s number one Tommy Fleetwood earned another point for his team when he brought down India’s SSP Chawrasia 2&1 before Thailand’s Poom Saksansin gave Asia a brief reprieve, beating England’s Paul Casey by one hole.
Major winner Henrik Stenson put another point on the board for Europe when he won 2&1 against Japan’s Hideto Tanihara before Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger took them three clear with a 2&1 victory over Thailand’s Phachara Khongwatmai.
France’s Alexander Levy then brought Europe to within a point of retaining the EurAsia Cup when he defeated Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat 3&1. The winning moment for Europe came on the 18th hole when Belgian Pieters beat Korea’s An by one hole.
“It always nice to get the winning point. We all have to do our own part today. We knew that and we knew what we had to do. You can see early on that we wanted it badly because the board was pretty blue,” said Pieters.
England’s Tyrrell Hatton then won 2&1 against India’s Anirban Lahiri to make it 13 ½ -7 ½ with three matches remaining.
Korea’s Sunghoon Kang and England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick shared the spoils before Japan’s Yuta Ikeda and China’s Li Haotong salvaged some pride for Team Asia by beating England’s Ross Fisher (1 hole) and Ireland’s Paul Dunne (3&1) respectively.
“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,” said Bjorn, who will also lead the European bid to regain the Ryder Cup in France this September.
Team Asia captain Arjun Atwal praised his charges despite the heartbreaking loss. “I’m very proud of these guys. They are all awesome players and it’s just unfortunate we lost today. We just didn’t make enough putts and they, on the other hand, made a lot more putts than us,” said the Indian golf legend.
While his team fell short on the final day, Atwal was delighted to witness the talent on display particularly from the young Thai duo of Poom Saksansin and Phachara Khongwatmai.
“The sky’s the limit for them. It’s unbelievable. They are all fantastic players. I got to know some of these guys a lot better this week and by just watching them play, I know they can achieve anything they want. They can win majors. They can win big tournaments on big tours. There’s no limit,” said Atwal.
Singles Results (Europe first, winners in bold):
Alex NOREN vs Nicholas FUNG – 4&2
Paul CASEY vs Poom SAKSANSIN – 1 up
Tommy FLEETWOOD vs SSP CHAWRASIA – 2&1
Henrik STENSON vs Hideto TANIHARA – 2&1
Rafa CABRERA BELLO vs Gavin GREEN – 4&3
Bernd WIESBERGER vs Phachara KHONGWATMAI – 2&1
Alexander LEVY vs Kiradech APHIBARNRAT – 3&1
Thomas PIETERS vs Byeong Hun AN – 1 up
Tyrrell HATTON vs Anirban LAHIRI – 2&1
Matthew FITZPATRICK vs Sunghoon KANG – all square
Ross FISHER vs Yuta IKEDA – 1 up
Paul DUNNE vs Haotong LI – 3&1
FINAL SCORE: EUROPE 14 / ASIA 10