Asia makes improbable comeback to share trophy with Europe
Asia put on a rousing Ryder Cup-like comeback on the final day of the EurAsia Cup on Saturday, picking up seven of 10 points available in singles to level the score 10-a-piece and share the trophy with Europe.
Asia trailed 7-3 heading into the final day and looked to be on their way to certain defeat. They briefly took the initiative, racing into the lead at 9 1/2-8 1/2 before Joost Luiten beat Koumei Oda 1-up to pull the Europeans level.
The final match between Asia's Hideto Tanihara and Europe's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano then finished all square. Tanihara sank an eight-foot putt to halve the 17th after Fernandez-Castano eagled the 16th to even the match.
On the 18th, Tanihara had the opportunity to give Asia the win but his birdie putt was a foot to the left. Fernandez-Castano then holed a three-footer to halve the hole, their match and the Cup. A disappointing end for Europe, who had looked so dominant entering the final day.
“I've been in contention many times in tournaments and I never felt as nervous as I have today,” Fernandez-Castano said. ''It's totally different when you play for a team, all of a sudden everything was down to my game. I'm pretty proud of the way I played the last few holes.''
Europe captain Miguel Angel Jimenez was quick to praise the efforts of Asia, saying: ''It was an amazing day of golf, Asia, Europe they both win, nobody loses. It's been very tough ... the Asian team, they played very well with six wins today and that showed that golf is very, very healthy all over their players.
''My players, they have given me everything and I have all the respect for them.''
Europe were leading proceedings 5-0 after the opening four-ball competition Thursday and by four points after Friday’s foursome; they only needed 3 ½ points on Saturday to wrap up the trophy.
But Team Asia, buoyed from their resurgence in form, won six of the singles matches and halved two others in their stirring fight back. Asia captain Thongchai Jaidee beat Graeme McDowell 3 and 2 in his match, joining Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Kim Hyung-sung, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Anirban Lahiri and Siddikur Rahman as winners for Asia.
''The team played fantastic ... in the meeting, I told the boys to push to the limit, try everything they could and stay positive,'' Thongchai said. ''We have got a very good result in the end.''