Europe dominates first day of EurAsia Cup

03/27/2014 12:11 PM

03/27/2014 1:50 PM

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (SportsNetwork.com) - The European team dominated play on Thursday to jump out to a big lead after the first day of the inaugural EurAsia Cup.

Led by an impressive performance by captain Miguel Angel Jimenez, Europe won all five matches of the day at Glenmarie Golf & Country Club to claim a 5-0 lead over Thongchai Jaidee's Asian team.

Thursday's matches were played under a four-ball format, while Friday will see foursomes before the event ends with 10 singles matches on Saturday.

The first point of the day came from the opening match, which saw Jimenez and Pablo Larrazabal play against Jaidee and partner Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

Asia claimed the early advantage when Aphibarnrat converted a 15-foot birdie putt at the first, but Europe took over from there

Jimenez brought the match back to all square with a 10-foot eagle effort at the third before Larrazabal birdied the sixth to grab a lead they would not lose for the remainder of the day.

Jimenez put the Europeans ahead by two with a lengthy birdie at the ninth, and later pushed the lead to 3-up by spinning his second shot at the par-5 11th back to about five feet and converting his putt for an eagle.

Jaidee would bring the Asians back within two with a 10-foot birdie putt at the 15th, but they would get no closer and Larrazabal got up and down for par from a greenside bunker at the 17th before Jaidee and Aphibarnrat each failed to convert their birdie chances to win the match, 2 & 1.

"Miguel played great," said Larrazabal. "He had like three or four birdie chances where he made birdie and he was amazing. I was there when he needed me, but he played great."

Europe's second point came from the third match that included the European pair of Victor Dubuisson, who was the runner-up at February's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, and Joost Luiten against Prayad Marksaeng and Siddikur Rahman.

Dubuisson gave his team the early advantage with a short birdie putt at the third. Luiten followed with a birdie at the fourth to put the Europeans ahead by a 2-up margin.

Rahman answered with a birdie at the fifth to get back to 1-down, but after Marksaeng lipped out a birdie effort at the eighth to remain behind, Dubuisson rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt at the ninth to go back up by two.

Luiten then nearly posted an albatross at the 11th when his second shot struck the pin and kicked in his short eagle putt to push the lead to 3-up.

The teams would traded pars over the next five holes to give the Europeans a 3 & 2 victory.

"I think we played all right, we played consistent," stated Luiten. "We made birdies on different holes, so there was not a hole that we made both birdie on so that really helped."

Moments later, Stephen Gallacher birdied the 15th from 10 feet to close out a 4 & 3 decision over the team of Gaganjeet Bhullar and Anirban Lahiri, and give Europe its third point.

The Europeans also controlled this match from the start as Gonzalo Fernandez- Castano holed out his second shot at the par-4 first for an eagle to grab the early lead.

Gallacher added a birdie at the fifth and an eagle at the 11th before Fernandez-Castano's birdie at the par-3 12th pushed the European's lead to 4- up.

Lahiri birdied the 14th to cut the deficit to three prior to Gallacher's clinching putt at the 15th.

Thomas Bjorn and Thorbjorn Olesen were pushed to the brink by Koumei Oda and Hideto Tanihara in the second match of the day, but were able to hang on for a 2-up decision and a 4-0 lead for Europe.

The Europeans claimed the early lead with Olesen's short birdie putt at the third, and Bjorn's par at the fifth was good enough to gain a 2-up advantage.

Oda brought the Asian team back within one with a birdie at the 16th, but Olesen saved par from just inside 10 feet at the 16th to remain 1-up before Bjorn birdied the 18th to win the hole and the match.

The final match of the day was the hardest for the Europeans as Graeme McDowell and Jamie Donaldson fell into an early deficit when Nicholas Fung recorded birdies at the third, fifth and seventh to grab a 3-up lead.

Fung and teammate Hyung-sung Kim would not win another hole for the remainder of the match, however, and McDowell sparked the frantic comeback with a 30- foot birdie putt at the eighth he followed with another birdie at the ninth, bringing the Europeans back within one.

Donaldson then eagled the 11th from eight feet to square the match before rolling in a 50-foot birdie at the 13th to grab a 1-up lead.

Donaldson birdied the 16th from six feet to gain a 2-up advantage and McDowell was conceded birdie at the 17th to close out the 3 & 1 victory and complete the sweep.

"We just had a very good day today and we have to not get complacent, get out tomorrow and continue to play well and not take it for granted, although we have had a very good start," Donaldson said.

NOTES: McDowell is the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 14 in the world ... Olesen is the only player on the European team to not have a recorded a win on the European Tour since the start of 2013 ... The European team combined to record six eagles on Thursday ... Aphibarnrat and Bhullar each had five birdies in a losing efforts ... Either team needs to reach at least 10 1/2 points to win the cup.

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