EurAsia Cup: Europe trail Asia by one point after opening day


Tommy Fleetwood and Paul Casey talk during day one's fourballs at the EurAsia Cup in Malaysia

Tommy Fleetwood and Paul Casey (right) got Europe off to a strong start before Asia hit back to lead on day one

Defending champions Europe trail Asia by one point after the opening day of the EurAsia Cup in Malaysia.

Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood started Friday’s fourballs with a 43 victory over Byeong-hun An and Kiradech Aphibarnrat in Kuala Lumpur.

Asia won the next two matches before Ross Fisher and Tyrrell Hatton levelled at Glenmarie Golf and Country Club.

But another victory for the hosts and a halved final match saw them secure a 3½-2½ lead going into the weekend.

After the inaugural EurAsia Cup in 2014 was tied, Europe thrashed Asia by 13 points in the 2016 event.

“We’re not underestimating this team by any means,” said Casey, who is representing Europe for the first time in nine years.

“We are taking this very seriously, so the score you see on the leaderboard right now is not through complacency – they have played some amazing golf to be in this position.”

China's Li Haotong celebrates a birdie putt during day one of the EurAsia Cup in Malaysia

China’s Li Haotong made a vital birdie putt at the 18th hole to secure a one-point lead for Asia

Europe Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn is also leading the team in this matchplay tournament and has selected a strong line-up.

England’s Casey rejoined the European Tour at the start of the season to be eligible for the Ryder Cup and started his first event back impressively with victory alongside Race to Dubai winner Fleetwood to put the first point on the board.

Asia moved in front with two wins in quick succession as Yuta Ikeda and Gavin Green beat Thomas Pieters and Matthew Fitzpatrick 21 before Sunghoon Kang and Poom Saksansin, who started with eight straight birdies, completed a comfortable 54 victory over Henrik Stenson and Alexander Levy.

England duo Fisher and Hatton beat Anirban Lahiri and SSP Chawrasia 54, only for Alex Noren and Paul Dunne to lose by two holes to Hideto Tanihara and Phachara Khongwatmai.

Europe had the chance to end the day level at 3-3 but Li Haotong made a crucial birdie putt to win the 18th hole, ensuring he and partner Nicholas Fung halved their match with Bernd Wiesberger and Rafa Cabrera Bello.

“I’ve been talking to the guys all week that we expect them to come out firing,” said Bjorn. “Expect them to be 100% up for this and that they are going to go out and play some good golf.

“When I look at the scoring in the groups I feel like a couple of guys might feel like they should have done better, but in general there was a lot of good golf from our side.”

Saturday will feature six foursome matches, with 12 singles taking place on Sunday.

Europe will seek to regain the Ryder Cup from the USA in Paris in September.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/golf/42664528

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