x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

First-day setback for Europe

In the third staging of the matchplay event, it is the first time Asia has led Europe after the opening day of the Royal Trophy.

BANGKOK // Asia took a 3-1 lead over Europe in the Royal Trophy after the opening day foursomes. In the third staging of the matchplay event, it was the first time Asia had led Europe after the opening day. "I feel like I'm dreaming now, especially after my past experience at the Royal Trophy," said Asia captain Naomichi "Joe" Ozaki. Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal was disappointed but not panicked by the setbacks, electing to retain the same pairings for today's fourball, as did Asia.

"The boys know that they didn't play up to the standards that we are used to seeing from them and they face a very tough challenge," Olazabal said. "I have said all along that we have great respect for the Asian team, but we believe that we can win here." Europe began strongly at the Amata Spring Country Club, when their opening pair of Soren Hansen of Denmark and Paul Lawrie of Scotland came from a hole down to beat Japanese pair Ryo Ishikawa and Toru Taniguchi of Japan 2&1. The Europeans drew level at the 15th and surged ahead with successive wins on the 16th and 17th.

Asia squared it 1-1 when the local Thai pair of Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaeng convincingly beat Niclas Fasth and Johan Edfors of Sweden 5&4. It was the last foursome to tee off but the second completed result. Charlie Wi of South Korea and Liang Wenchong of China came back from three holes down to add the second point for Asia with a two-up win over Paul McGinley of Ireland and Pablo Larrazabal of Spain.

They drew level after the 16th hole and they then dominated the last two holes. Hideto Tanihara of Japan and SK Ho of South Korea wrapped up the day with a one up win over the English pair of Oliver Wilson and Nick Dougherty. * With Agencies