Thomas Bjorn's Europe Produce Brilliant Fightback in EurAsia Cup Singles
IT DIDN’T all go quite to plan, but Thomas Bjorn’s European team eventually came out on top to win the EurAsia Cup thanks to a remarkable comeback in the final-day singles, eventually seeing off their spirited opponents 14-10 in Kuala Lumpur.
The visitors trailed by one point after Friday's fourball and Saturday's foursomes sessions in Kuala Lumpur but Bjorn's team won 8.5 points in the single to take the trophy, and Bjorn was delighted.
He said: "There was maybe a bit of a change in atmosphere in the team room yesterday. There was a lot of determination, a lot of willing to go out and win a point and most of them did that today. I'm very proud of them - a great team, great morale.
"They knew they had to keep going until the end, they knew they were up against something - there was a special atmosphere in that Asian team - and they knew they had to work hard. Every single one of them stood up and did everything they could and I'm just very proud of these boys.
"They worked so hard this week and they worked well together. As a group we've had a really good time. We wanted to win, we didn't want to travel this far at this time of the year not to win. We wanted to come out here and show that European golf is more than 12 strong, we are all the way through.”
The honour of holing the winning putt went to Belgium's Thomas Pieters as Europe won eight of the 12 singles matches, with Asia managing just three wins and the other game finishing all square.
Pieters, who was unbeaten in the 2016 Ryder Cup, made a blistering start against Byeong Hun An, winning four of the first six holes. But the South Korean showed terrific resilience, winning the eighth, ninth, 12th and 14th to level the match. Pieters then curled in his tricky seven-foot putt at the 15th to regain the lead, before winning another hole at the next to ensure Europe would retain the trophy at very least. After An had holed his birdie putt at the 17th, the final hole was halved in fours and Pieters could celebrate delivering the winning point.
He said: "It's always nice to get the winning point. I got off to a good start, then played pretty poorly during the middle, then made a couple of very good birdies."
Alex Noren set the ball rolling for Europe, beating Nicholas Fung 4&2 in the lead match to level things. Rafa Cabrera Bello then beat Gavin Green 4&3 before Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood made it three in a row with a 2&1 victory against S.S.P Chawrasia.
Poom Saksansin got Asia's first point of the day when he beat Paul Casey by one hole but Henrik Stenson soon put another blue point on the board, beating Hideto Tanihara 2&1. Bernd Wiesberger and Alex Levy then closed out their wins against Phachara Khongwatmai and Kiradech Aphibarnrat respectively to put Europe within a single point of victory.
And Pieters held on against An to secure the deciding point.
Englishman Tyrrell Hatton then beat Anirban Lahiri 2&1 before Matthew Fitzpatrick halved his match against Sunghoon Kang. Asia won the final two matches, with Li Haotong and Yuta Ikeda beating Paul Dunne and Ross Fisher respectively.
Hatton and Fleetwood both delivered three points for Europe on their EurAsia Cup debuts, and Hatton was thrilled with the week. "It's been an amazing experience for me, seeing as it's my first time in a team event as a pro,” he said. "I've loved the week. It's been great with the team. We've had good fun in the team room, as well. We needed a big day today. The lads have gone out there and done a job, which is fantastic."
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