Asia battles back to earn a share of EurAsia Cup

03/29/2014 2:36 AM

03/29/2014 2:41 AM

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (SportsNetwork.com) - Asia won six of Saturday's 10 singles matches and halved two more to battle back and earn a tie with Europe at the inaugural EurAsia Cup.

The cup seemed to be locked up early by the Europeans after opening the competition with a sweep of Thursday's four-ball matches, but Asia dominated the action from there to earn the tie.

"We basically had everything to gain after the first round. We wanted to prove that we are comparable to the European players as well," Anirban Lahiri said.

Both teams finished with 10 points apiece at Glenmarie Golf & Country Club.

Europe was still in control at the start Saturday's singles matches with a 7-3 lead, and inched closer to the needed 10 1/2 points when team captain Miguel Angel Jimenez converted about a 12-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole to claim a 1-up victory over Nicholas Fung.

That would put Europe on top by an 8-4 margin as Thongchai Jaidee, who was Asia's captain, had just completed a 3 & 2 win over Graeme McDowell. That match was all square at the turn before Jaidee recorded birdies at the 11th, 12th and 15th to move ahead for good.

Asia took control from there, however, and would lose just one more match for the remainder of the day.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat gave the Asians their next point with a late flurry. He trailed Thomas Bjorn by two after the European rolled in back-to-back birdies at the 13th and 14th, but Aphibarnrat responded by winning the next three holes to close out the 2 & 1 victory.

Kim was next on the board with a dominant, 4 & 2 decision over Pablo Larrazabal.

After the Spaniard birdied the ninth to bring the match back to square at the turn, Kim won the next two holes to go on top. Kim would add wins at the 14th and 16th to account for the final margin and pull Asia within 8-6.

Jamie Donaldson was in line to give Europe back some breathing room when he birdied the ninth to go 4-up on Prayad Marksaeng, but he fell apart from there and tripped to three bogeys during his inward nine en route to a halve.

Gaganjeet Bhullar, meanwhile, was closing out a 4 & 3 win over Thorbjorn Olesen to close Asia's gap to just one.

Lahiri then took advantage of another slow back nine by Europe to knot the score at 8 1/2 to 8 1/2.

Victor Dubuisson held a 1-up advantage in that match after responding from an early 2-down hole by winning the fifth, seventh and ninth holes, but Lahiri knotted the match with an eagle at the 11th before closing out the 2 & 1 win with an eagle at the 16th and a par at the 17th.

Dubuisson had a chance to keep the match alive at the 17th, but failed to convert his 4-foot par putt.

The teams split the next two matches to remain tied with one match to go, as Siddikur Rahman gave Asia its first lead of the competition with a 4 & 3 decision over Stephen Gallacher before Joost Luiten brought Europe back even with a 1-up victory over Koumei Oda.

The fate of the cup then rested in the hands of Asia's Hideto Tanihara and Europe's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, who were all square after 14 holes.

Fernandez-Castano briefly fell 1-down when he failed to convert a 2-foot par putt at the 15th, but bounced right back with a 10-foot eagle putt at the 16th to again square the match.

Tanihara then found a bunker off the tee at the par-3 17th, but was able to get up and down for par to head to the 18th all square.

Fernandez-Castano was next to find trouble off the tee when he drove into the rough at the last.

He was able to play his next to 25 feet, while Tanihara rolled his second shot 10 feet past the hole.

Neither would be able to hole their birdie putts, however, and Fernandez- Castano conceded Tanihara's 1-foot par putt for the tie after 2-putting for par.

"It's been a great week here in Malaysia. I would definitely love to come and play in the next EurAsia Cup again," said Donaldson.

"We are all winners of the very first EurAsia Cup," Jimenez added.

NOTES: Donaldson was the top scorer in the field, earning 2 1/2 of a possible three points. Fernandez-Castano was the only other undefeated player with two halves and a win ... Kim, Lahiri and Siddikur led the Asian team with two points each ... McDowell was the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 14 in the world.

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