Asia stormed back into contention at the Royal Trophy yesterday by taking three points from the four four-ball matches against Europe to close the deficit to just one ahead of the final day singles.
Holders Europe have a slender 4 1/2-3 1/2 lead ahead of today’s eight singles matches at the Empire Country Club in Brunei with Jose Maria Olazabal’s side needing four more points to win the annual contest.
Asia have won the Royal Trophy only once, in 2009, with Europe winning the four other times. A fifth win looked odds on after Olazabal’s side had taken a three-point lead from the opening foursomes, but Asia had other ideas on the second day.
India’s Jeev Milkha Singh rolled in a four-foot putt on the 18th as he and Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand scored a fighting half in their match against Olazabal and Spanish compatriot Miguel Angel Jimenez in the opening game of the day.
Jimenez and Olazabal, who was nursing what appeared to be a neck injury throughout the round, both narrowly missed makeable putts on the last hole to claim the win.
Despite the pain, Olazabal, who grimaced after hitting shots and had his caddie help stretch out his shoulders and neck during the round, will lead off the singles against South Korean Bae Sang-moon today.
South Korean Kim Kyung-tae then rolled in a four-footer on the 17th as he and compatriot Yang Yong-eun claimed a 2&1 win over Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Swede Henrik Stenson.
The Korean duo were five up through nine holes but the Europeans closed the deficit and trailed by only one with three to play before Kim’s pinpoint approach to the par-four 17th set up a birdie and Asia’s first win of the sixth edition.
Bae could have added the second win for Asia shortly after but he missed his birdie effort on the 18th to halve the match with Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts and German playing partner Marcel Siem.
Bae and Chinese partner Wu Ashun would have had two putts for the win but Colsaerts rolled in a 14ft effort on the final green to set up the half.
Japanese duo Ryo Ishikawa and Yoshinori Fujimoto then sealed a 3&1 win over Italian brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari to make it Asia’s day.
AFP, MALELANE, South Africa
Charl Schwartzel shot an eight-under-par 64 while Gregory Bourdy carded a seven-under 65 as both men shared a four-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Alfred Dunhill Championship on Friday.
The South African teed off on the 10th hole, making four birdies and an eagle from the 15th to the second at the 6,671m Leopard Creek Estate course.
Two more birdies later and he was in a share of the lead, tied with first round leader Bourdy from France at 13 under par.
ISKANDAR JOHOR OPEN
Sweden’s Daniel Chopra took a one-stroke lead into the final day of the Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia after the tournament was reduced to 54 holes yesterday due to several weather disruptions.
Chopra carded a six-under-par 66 to take the second round lead for a total of 10-under, a shot ahead of three-time Asian Tour winner Chapchai Nirat of Thailand.
Chopra played his entire second round yesterday and finished his bogey-fee round in the nick of time before the sirens signalled an afternoon delay that stopped play for almost three hours at the Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club.