Asia took the narrow lead after the opening day of fourball matches at the EURASIA Cup, leading Europe 3.5 to 2.5
➤ 4&3 Paul Casey/ Tommy Fleetwood vs Byeong Hun An/ Kiradech Aphibarnrat
➤ Thomas Pieters/ Matt Fitzpatrick vs Yuta Ikeda/ Gavin Green 2&1
➤ Alex Noren/ Paul Dunne vs Hideto Tanihara/ Phacara Khongwatmai 2UP
➤ Alex Levy/ Henrik Stenson vs Sunghoon Kang/ Poom Saksansin 5&4
➤ A/S Rafa Cabrera Bello/ Bernd Wiesberger vs Nichoals Fung / Li Haotong
➤ 5&4 Ross Fisher/Tyrrell Hatton vs Anirban Lahiri/ S.S.P Chawrasia
Defending Champions Europe had a difficult start to the fourball matches, finding themselves down in four matches and all-square in two during the early stages, but managed to find a second gear to win 2.5 points from the first day of the contest.
Tommy Fleetwood and Paul Casey were the first pairing to put points on the board, and were on the front-foot from the start thanks to a birdie from Fleetwood at the first and Casey’s long-range eagle putt at the third. Byeong Hun An and Kiradech Aphibarnrat levelled things up by the 10th, but an eagle from Fleetwood on 11 put the English duo back on top, and they followed it with wins on the 12th, 14th and 15th holes to pick up the first point of the day.
Casey said: “It feels great. I love match play, especially when you have a partner like Tommy Fleetwood. I’m ecstatic to get this going and get a point because it’s going to be a tough week.”
Fleetwood said: “We got up early with a good start but they just came back and hit really good golf shots.
The hosts then picked up two points in quick succession, with Yuta Ikeda and Gavin Green beating Thomas Pieters and Matthew Fitzpatrick 2 and 1 before Henrik Stenson and rookie Alex Levy fell to Sunghoon Kang and Poom Saksansin 5 and 4.
The next point came for Europe to bring the scores back to level for the match, with Ross Fisher and Tyrrell Hatton defeating Anirban Lahiri and S.S.P Chawrasia 5&4. The pair were three up when they made the turn due to three Ross Fisher birdies.
Birdies from Fisher as the sixth, eighth and ninth had the European pair three up at the turn, while Hatton fired two further birdies at the 11th and 14th to wrap up the point.
Fisher said: “We always knew it was going to be tough. Anirban’s a good player. S.S.P is not the longest but he’s got a phenomenal short game as he showed there.
“I think we just stuck to our game plan, played our own games, percentage golf, and there weren’t really many holes where we didn’t both have birdie putts or were making easy pars.
Alex Noren and Paul Dunne then lost to Hideto Tanihara and 18 year old Phachara Khongwatmai by two holes to put Asia back in the lead, but it looked hopeful for Europe as Cabrera Bello and Wiesberger stood on the 18th tee one up.
A final hole birdie from Li was enough for him and Nicholas Fung to halve their match with Cabrera Bello and Wiesberger to hand Asia a one-point lead at the end of the opening day.
Cabrera Bello said: “It’s been a tough match. Obviously they played very good themselves, and so did we. “It was a back-and-forth battle. At end, only a halve, of course we wanted to get the win for Europe.
Saturday Foursome Matches
09:35 Henrik Stenson/Tommy Fleetwood vs SSP Chawrasia/Anirban Lahiri
09:45 Paul Casey/Tyrrell Hatton vs Kiradech Aphibarnrat/ Byeong Hun An
09:55 Rafa Cabrera Bello/Alex Levy vs Gavin Green/ Yuta Ikeda
10:05 Matt Fitzpatrick/Thomas Pieters vs Sung Kang/ Poom Saksansin
10:15 Alex Noren/Paul Dunne vs Pharchara Khongwatmai/Hideto Tanihara
10:25 Ross Fisher/Bernd Wiesberger vs Nicholas Fun/Li Haotong
EurAsia Cup 2018: How to Watch
Friday (Jan 12): Sky Sports Main Event (03:30), Sky Sports Golf (03:30)
Saturday (Jan 13): Sky Sports Golf (03:30)
Sunday (Jan 14): Sky Sports Golf (03:30)