Team Europe took a huge step toward winning the inaugural EurAsia Cup yesterday when they crushed Asia 5-0 in the opening day four-ball matches of the Ryder Cup-styled event.
European captain Miguel Angel Jimenez and fellow Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal gave them the perfect start by beating Team Asia leader Thongchai Jaidee and Kiradech Aphibarnrat 2 and 1 in Kuala Lumpur.
Three of the other five matches were as easily won by the Europeans at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club.
Only Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung and his South Korean partner Kim Hyung-sung had a good opportunity to give Asia a point after going 3-up through seven holes, but Europe’s pairing of Graeme McDowell and Jamie Donaldson went on the offensive and turned it around to register a 3 and 1 victory.
“We somehow managed to make the turn at 1-down, which was huge, and this guy [Donaldson] had a phenomenal back nine... It was great to watch,” McDowell said.
Danish pairing Thomas Bjorn and Thorbjorn Olesen beat Japan’s Koumei Oda and Hideto Tanihara 2-up, while France’s Victor Dubuisson and Joost Luiten of the Netherlands defeated Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng and Bangladesh’s Siddikur Rahman 3 and 2.
Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Stephen Gallacher of Scotland enjoyed the biggest win of the day, defeating India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar and Anirban Lahiri 4 and 3.
Before tee-off, the Malaysian prime minister led a minute of silence together with the two team captains as a tribute to Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Malaysia says the Beijing-bound flight that lost contact shortly after takeoff from Kuala Lumpur on March 8 crashed into the southern Indian Ocean with 239 people aboard.
All players and officials wore black ribbons and visitors were able to leave a message on a wall of condolence, the organizers said.
The new team tournament has incensed the administrators of a rival tournament, the Royal Trophy, a similar Europe versus Asia competition launched in 2006.
The buildup to the cup has been overshadowed by a war of words between the European Tour and organizers of the Royal Trophy.
The EurAsia Cup continues with five foursomes pairings today and finishes with 10 singles matches tomorrow.
Europe only need another 5.5 points from the 15 available over the next two days to claim the trophy.
Thongchai, who has been bullish about his team’s chances, said he is still hopeful of better days ahead.
“We will make changes to our partnership for tomorrow... as it is a tricky format,” the Thai said. “We have to be at our best if we are to close the gap. The Europeans have more experience playing in this situation.”
Donaldson said he was not underestimating Asia, despite the first-round whitewash.
“To be 5-0 up is a fantastic start. We have always said we can’t underestimate them, because at the end of the day we are playing in Malaysia,” the Welshman said.