Team Europe maintained their dominance at the EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM as Darren Clarke’s men opened up a six-point advantage over Team Asia after Saturday’s foursomes session.
England’s Ian Poulter, together with compatriot Danny Willett, secured the continent’s first point in the top match as Europe earned 4 ½ points for the second day running to extend their advantage to 9-3.
But it was not all plain sailing for Clarke’s team, who were trailing in four of the day’s six matches when Poulter and Willett reached the turn. Poulter, who along with Bernd Wiesberger delivered the visitors’ first point in the fourball matches on Friday, was on song again as he and Willett beat Byeonghun An and Thongchai Jaidee 3 & 2.
Shane Lowry and Andy Sullivan combined to deliver a point for the second day in succession, beating Shingo Katayama and Prayad Marksaeng 3 & 2. Wiesberger and Ross Fisher recovered from losing the first hole to beat K.T. Kim and Jeunghun Wang by two holes, while Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick cruised to a 5 & 4 win over Anirban Lahiri and Wu Ashun.
Victor Dubuisson and Søren Kjeldsen finished all square in their match with Danny Chia and Nicholas Fung for the second straight day while Kristoffer Broberg and Chris Wood lost by two holes to Kiradech Aphibarnrat and S.S.P. Chawrasia in match three.
Clarke, who will also captain Europe in the Ryder Cup in September, is refusing to let his guard down although Europe need only 3 ½ points from 12 singles matches on Sunday to win the EurAsia Cup, which was tied 10-10 in the inaugural edition two years ago.
“I go back to Brookline in 1999 when we had a big lead and lost. We obviously have a commanding lead right now, but there’s still a lot of golf to play tomorrow against a very strong Asian team. So under no circumstances will we underestimate the challenge that we still have to do. But at the same time I’m obviously delighted for the team that we are in this position.
“There’s no hands on any trophy in any golf tournament until you finish the last hole on a Sunday afternoon. I have been in the game too long to know that, whether it’s a stroke play or a team tournament. I think we’re probably in for another exciting day tomorrow again.”
Poulter, a captain’s pick, was delighted to produce a second point for Europe alongside Willett.
He said: “We played very nicely. We spoke after about five holes, and said it’s all about keeping the pressure on. Don’t give anybody anything – any little window or any little door – and that’s exactly what we did today. We drove it well, and put it in play and only missed a couple of shots between us all day. We holed a couple of nice putts and had them under pressure right from the start.”
Singh, a two-time Asian Tour number one, was disappointed with the day’s outcome after red scores dominated the early leaderboard before Europe started to take control of the session.
“I think the start was amazing. When I saw red out there, I said the boys are going to get the thing rolling today. But that’s all right. At least we got 1 1/2 points, and looking back two years ago, we were in a similar situation, and the boys pulled through.
“And I still believe with the pairings that have come out, my boys are going to do well tomorrow. I think in golf, I believe in the saying, anything is possible until the last putt is not holed out. So I’m hoping and I believe that my boys are going to go out there and give it their best shot.”
He praised Kiradech and Chawrasia, who secured the team’s lone win, and local heros Chia and Fung, who fought to a half point for a second straight day on the 18th green.
“I think S.S.P. and Kiradech, I think they had a perfect combination. Whenever they missed the green, I think S.S.P. came in, or Kiradech came in to save par and make birdies. I think it was fantastic to watch them,” he said.
“Danny and Nicholas … amazing. I think it’s great to watch these two. I think when I asked them early rear, I said, “What do you think about playing with each other?” They said, “We’re brothers.” I said, “This is it. You’re made for each other,” and I think they have proven it.”
Lahiri, who has lost his two matches here, said Asia must come out fighting in the singles session. “Obviously this is an uncomfortable but familiar position to be in. Having said that, I think we have to do what we did the last time around. We have our back against the wall, and I think we have to come out and we have to be inspired,” said the Asian Tour number one.
“Looking at the way Danny and Nicholas have played, they have played with their hearts on their sleeve. They have given it everything and I think that is what is needed. I think we need to go out there and give it absolutely everything. We have to play our best golf. We have to forget about who we are playing, because at the end of the day, it’s still golf.
“ I think that’s what Captain Jeev has told us. He believes in us, and he just wants us to go out there and show everyone our spirit, our character and just go for everything.”
Europe 9 Asia 3
Saturday’s Foursomes Results (Team Europe first)
Ian Poulter/Danny Willett bt Byeonghun An/Thongchai Jaidee 3 & 2
Bernd Wiesberger/Ross Fisher bt K.T. Kim/Jeunghun Wang 2-UP
Kristoffer Broberg/Chris Wood lost to S.S.P. Chawrasia/Kiradech Aphibarnrat 2-UP
Shane Lowry/Andy Sullivan bt Prayad Marksaeng/Shingo Katayama 3 & 2
Soren Kjeldsen/Victor Dubusison and Danny Chia/Nicholas Fung halved
Lee Westwood/Matthew Fitzpatrick bt Anirban Lahiri/Wu Ashun 5 & 4
Sunday’s Singles Matches (Team Europe first)
Match 1: 8.35am Ian Poulter vs Danny Chia
Match 2: 8.45am Danny Willett vs Byeonghun An
Match 3: 8.55am Andy Sulliva vs Thongchai Jaidee
Match 4: 9.05am Matthew Fitzpatrick vs Kiradech Aphibarnrat
Match 5: 9.15am Shane Lowry vs Anirban Lahiri
Match 6: 9.25am Bernd Wiesberger vs K.T. Kim
Match 7: 9.35am Lee Westwood vs Nicholas Fung
Match 8: 9.45am Ross Fisher vs Jeunghun Wang
Match 9: 9.55am Chris Wood vs S.S.P. Chawarasia
Match 10: 10.05am Kristoffer Broberg vs Shingo Katayama
Match 11: 10.15am Victor Dubuisson vs Wu Ashun
Match 12: 10.25am Soren Kjeldsen vs Prayad Marksaeng