Saturday, 29 March 2014 | MYT 6:29 PM
Europe and Asia finish joint EurAsia Cup winners
Europe captain Miguel Angel Jimenez (left) and Asia captain Thongchai Jaidee (right) with the EurAsia Cup trophy. - AZMAN GHANI / The Star
SUBANG: Team Asia set a sizzling pace in the singles event to stage a magnificent fightback and share the inaugural EurAsia Cup with Team Europe at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club.
For the second day running, Asia upstaged Europe as they won the singles session 7-3 to end the three-day tournament tied at 10-10.
It was the first day fourballs session that put Team Asia in a bind as they trailed Team Europe 5-0.
But Team Asia regrouped and chased Team Europe to win the foursome sesssion on Friday 3-2 – and went into the final day yesterday trailing 7-3.
The spectacular collapse of Team Europe in the singles session was totally unexpected, considering they had captain Miguel Angel Jimenez in fine form and world No. 14 and 2010 US Open winner Graeme McDowell in their line-up.
Asia began their fightback in the very first match-up yesterday. Although many tipped the match to go easily to Team Europe, Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung, ranked 251 in the world, had other ideas as he put Jimenez to the sword and matched him stride for stide until the 17th hole.
But the charasmatic Spaniard turned up with a birdie on the final 18th hole to beat Nicholas by one hole.
But no one epitomised Asia’s desire to turn the tables on their European counterparts better than Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng, who fought back from four down after the first nine to halve with world No. 28 Jamie Donaldson in the fourth match-up.
Before that, two other Thais had already given team Asia two clear points.
Team Asia captain Thongchai Jaidee defeated McDowell 3 & 1 while Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Kiradech Aphibarnrat defeated Thomas Bjorn 2 & 1.
With the European players unable to raise their game, Asia drew level at 8½-8½ after winning three more matches on a trot.
South Korean Kim Hyung-sung packed off Pablo Larrazabal 4 & 2 while Indians Anirban Lahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar edged out Victor Dubuisson and Thorbjorn Olesen 2 & 1 and 4 & 3 respectively.
Asia then went ahead for the first time in the tournament when Siddikur Rahman outplayed Stephen Gallacher 4 & 3 for a 9½-8½ lead with two more match-ups to go – Joost Luiten leading Koumei Oda and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano matching Nideto Tanihara stride for stride.
While Luiten duly won his match by one hole, there was drama in the other match-up.
And the pressure nearly took its toll on Fernandez-Castano at the 15th hole when he missed a two-foot putt to hand the advantage to his 35-year-old opponent.
But an eagle in the next hole saw them all-square and the two players failed to get the better of each other in the remaining two holes – and the overall score stayed at 10-10.
Team Asia certainly proved to be deserving adversaries for Team Europe as many felt that they would be out of their elements against the more established European golfers.
At the prize-giving ceremony, the players and officials held a moment of silence for the passengers and crew of missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 flight before Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak presented the prizes.
Najib congratulated the winners and confirmed that Malaysia will host the next two editions of the EurAsia Cup – in 2016 and 2018.