Team Europe romped to an emphatic 18½ to 5½ victory over Asia to secure their first win at the EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM on Sunday.
Match play expert Ian Poulter once again set the tone for Europe by beating Malaysia’s Danny Chia 4 & 3 in the top singles match to put some early blue scores on the board and quell any hope of an Asian fightback at Glenmarie Golf and Country Club.
The English duo of Lee Westwood and Andy Sullivan followed up on Poulter’s lead by beating Nicholas Fung 7 & 6 and Thongchai Jaidee 4 & 3 respectively before leaving it to compatriot Danny Willett to deliver the final blow to Team Asia’s hopes.
Willett’s 3 & 1 defeat of Byeonghun An ensured Team Europe would become the first side to lift the EurAsia Cup after the inaugural event in 2014 ended in a thrilling 10-10 draw.
Further victories for Matt Fitzpatrick, Chris Wood, Kristoffer Broberg, Victor Dubuisson and Søren Kjeldsen sealed a convincing win for Captain Darren Clarke’s side.
Team Asia’s points came courtesy of India’s Anirban Lahiri and Korea’s K.T. Kim, who beat Shane Lowry 2 & 1 and Bernd Wiesberger 3 & 2 respectively, whilst a birdie putt on the last hole by young Jeunghun Wang ensured his match with Ross Fisher would finish in a tie.
Clarke, who will also captain Europe’s Ryder Cup team in September, was delighted with his team’s emphatic victory. They won the fourball and foursomes sessions 4 ½ to 1 ½ on both days before winning nine singles matches and halving one out of the 12 on the final day.
“The team have played fantastic this week. There have been a lot of positives. I’ve learnt a few things, and hopefully I’ll do a better job come September,” said Clarke.
“But if the players don’t play and don’t perform, you can be the best captain in the world and you’re not going to win. This belongs to the players; the quality of the golf this week has been brilliant.”
Captain’s pick Poulter delivered three points for Europe from as many matches, handing Chia his only defeat in the EurAsia Cup by shooting six birdies through 15 holes.
“Danny had nothing to lose so I had to come out and play strong, and that’s what I did today. I played pretty solid, holed some decent putts and obviously made it very difficult for him,” said Poulter, Europe’s talisman in the Ryder Cup.
Willett, who finished second in the Race to Dubai on the European Tour last season, was delighted to secure the win that gave Europe the unassailable lead over Asia, who never found their putting touch on the greens all week.
“It’s been a fantastic week and a fantastic group of lads. We’ve had a good laugh, and I think to enjoy it, we’ve really shown Europe’s true colors and European spirit and a pretty outstanding win,” said Willett.
Team Asia’s captain Jeev Milkha Singh of India conceded Europe were worthy winners of the EurAsia Cup but vowed to come back stronger in the next edition of the match play event in Malaysia in 2018.
“I still feel that the team was really strong, and I think they still need to keep their chin up and believe in themselves that they are the world beaters and they are going to do really well and I wish them all the success.
But the experience we have gained from this, that’s what we take away from here and nothing else,” said Singh.
Thongchai, who was the playing captain for Asia two years ago, said Asia would bounce back in two years’ time. “Our team tried so hard. Even Jeev, he is a very good captain. But Europe had a very strong team.
“I didn’t play well this week and I think we try to make up in two years, we have to plan early. That’s the key thing. We’ll look forward to 2018 and I think we have more experience next time and have a good chance to try to beat the European Team,” said the Thai veteran star.