Darren Clarke delighted with three-point lead after opening day of EurAsia Cup
Published 15/01/2016 | 08:01
European captain Darren Clarke was delighted with his side's performance as they claimed a three-point lead over Asia after the opening day of the second EurAsia Cup in Kuala Lumpur.
Clarke, who will also lead Europe in the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine in October, saw team talisman Ian Poulter lead from the front by partnering Bernd Wiesberger to a 4&3 win over Anirban Lahiri and Jeunghun Wang.
And Clarke's other wild card Lee Westwood also justified his selection by combining with fellow Englishman Chris Wood to beat Kiradech Aphibarnrat and SSP Chawrasia 2&1 in the final match.
In between there were also wins for Ross Fisher and Kristoffer Broberg, who thrashed Prayad Marksaeng and KT Kim 6&4, and Shane Lowry and Andy Sullivan over Wu Ashun and Shingo Katayama, with the home side's only win seeing Byeong-hun An and Thongchai Jaidee beat Danny Willett and Matt Fitzpatrick 3&1.
Victor Dubuisson played through the pain barrier after suffering a knee injury on the 15th hole as he and Soren Kjeldsen halved their match with Danny Chia and Nicholas Fung.
"A three-point lead after day one, it's a wonderful start for Europe," said Clarke, who will be taking nothing for granted after Europe squandered a 5-0 lead in the inaugural contest two years ago, which ended in a 10-10 draw.
"There were a lot of matches there that it could have swung either way on the back nine. Halfway around Europe were leading in all the matches. I was on the radio to a few of the other guys and said, 'This is match play, Asia are going to come back at some stage on the back nine, and that's exactly what they did.'
"We had a strong couple of matches and managed to finish with a very good result."
Poulter was the last European team member to arrive in Malaysia after celebrating his 40th birthday in Las Vegas, but demonstrated his aptitude for team golf once more alongside the big-hitting Wiesberger.
"It worked out nicely today," Poulter said. "I think for the most part we put two balls in play. When you do that and you have good looks (at birdie), you don't both have to make it on the same hole and that's exactly what we did.
"Darren said, 'Listen, go out there first and get it done' and that's exactly what we did today. We dovetailed nicely, kept them under pressure and holed a few key putts, especially around the turn."
Fisher admitted he was somewhat surprised to be paired with Broberg, but Clarke's decision paid dividends as the pair cruised to the biggest win of the day.
" I didn't really have an inkling me and Kris were going to play together until probably Thursday, so I was quite excited," said Fisher, who was on the winning European team at Celtic Manor in 2010.
"Clarkey explained why he put us together; apparently we make the most birdies together as a pairing. We were really up for the challenge come the first tee, and just kept saying to each other, come on, let's keep the pedal down."
Asia captain Jeev Milkha Singh believed putting was the difference between the sides, adding: " I think my team played really well today. I'm proud of my boys.
"They were just a little unlucky with their putts, but that's what the game is all about, whoever holes them, wins. I think they are going to work pretty hard on their putting for tomorrow and the day after. I'm excited about the next two days."