Asia retain narrow EurAsia Cup lead

2018 Ryder Cup

Asia got off to a stunning start to take a one point lead over their more fancied European opponents Friday on the rain-soaked opening day of the EurAsia Cup in Malaysia.

Yuga Ikeda and Gavin Green claimed an impressive win over 2016 Ryder Cup players Thomas Pieters and Matthew Fitzpatrick 2 & 1.

"We're very well aware that Asia has never fielded a stronger team than they do this time", the Dane said, according to the European Tour website.

Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn will run the rule over a heavyweight European team when he skippers them against Asia in this week's EurAsia Cup.

The anchor match saw Bernd Wiesberger partner Englishman Ross Fisher, a victor on Friday, against Haotong Li and Nicholas Fung but despite moving 2up at the par five 6th green Asia responded quickly and Li continued his strong putting display from the opening day's play to secure a 3&1 win and maintain Asia's slender advantage heading into Sunday's singles. "When you're one or two down in matchplay, you can easily flip that, and they did", Asia captain Arjun Atwal said.

Though two days of action remain, that the results are even close is a surprise. "It's crunch day tomorrow", said Tommy Fleetwood.

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Europe's third victory of the day came in the fourth foursomes match as Fitzpatrick and Pieters carded four successive birdies from the 5th to take control against Poom Saksansin and Sunghoon Kang, who had both impressed together in seeing off Alexander Levy and Stenson on Friday.

Promising young Malaysian Gavin Green, the latest Asian Tour Order of Merit victor, is among a handful on the Asian side playing in the event at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club for the first time. "Clearly, they have played some awesome golf to be in this position".

The pair upstaged India's S.S.P. Chawrasia and Anirban Lahiri courtesy of seven birdies, including a five-foot birdie putt from Fleetwood which sealed the win on the 16th hole.

Hideto Tanihara and Phachara Khongwatmai beat Alex Noren and Paul Dunne 2&1 before Haoting Li and Nicholas Fung also won three of the last four holes to claim a 3&2 win over Bernd Wiesberger and Ross Fisher to keep the hosts ahead in the contest.

It gives Denmark's Bjorn a great chance to test players in a team environment before the showdown against US in Paris.

That has left Asia well-placed to win the event for the first time heading into 12 singles matches on Sunday.

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