Team Asia takes surprise early lead at EurAsia Cup

Thomas’s Bjorn’s first session in charge of a European team doesn’t bode well for his chances of winning the Ryder Cup this September.

Bjorn’s European team trails Team Asia after the opening four-ball session of the EurAsia Cup in Kuala Lumpur. Arjun Atwal’s side sprang a surprise 3 ½ – 2 ½ victory in the session on the stronger European team.

Bjorn would trail by more if not for his English partnerships. Only the pairings of Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood and Ross Fisher and Tyrrell Hatton delivered for Bjorn.

Casey and Fleetwood got Europe on track with a 4-and-3 victory over Byeong Hun An and Kiradech Aphibarnrat in the opening match.

“It feels great,” said Casey, who has returned to the European Tour to play in the Ryder Cup. “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.”

It was certainly a tough opening session.

The home team picked up the next two points when Yuta Ikeda and Gavin Green defeated Thomas Pieters and Matthew Fitzpatrick, 2 and 1, before Henrik Stenson and rookie Alex Levy lost 5 and 4 to Sunghoon Kang and Poom Saksansin.

Fisher and Hatton leveled the score at 2-2 with a 5-and-4 victory over Indians Anirban Lahiri and S.S.P. Chawrasia. However, Alex Noren and Paul Dunne lost to Hideto Tanihara and Phachara Khongwatmai by two holes.

Bjorn needed Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Bernd Wiesberger to defeat Haotong Li and Nicholas Fung to salvage parity. The European duo battled back from 2 down to stand on the 18th tee 1 up. However, they could not find a birdie to match Li’s and had to settle for a half point.

“There was some unbelievable golf from a couple of the Asian pairings,” Bjorn said. “But we expected that.

“There was a lot of good golf from our side. The rust had been knocked off the golf swings in practice and maybe the competitive rust might have needed to be knocked off today.

“I suspect that we’ll go out tomorrow and be ready to play, and foursomes is a very different game.”

He better hope so, or his Ryder Cup dress rehearsal could be a complete a flop.

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