Asia sweeps to 3-1 lead over Europe in golf's Royal Trophy
Liang Wenchong hits a shot on the opening-day of theRoyal Trophy at the Dragon Lake Golf Club in southern China's Guangdong province on December 20, 2013
Playing with style and spirit, the power-packed Asian line-up put Jose Maria Olazabal's European team to the sword over the Dragon Lake Golf Club's Asian Games Course.
While Korean Yang had reason to smile as his players lived up to the high expectations he had placed upon them in the build-up to the three-day contest, Spaniard Olazabal was left to reflect on a day of disappointment.
It was a bad day for us. We didn't expect that start, admitted the ex-Ryder Cup winning captain. Now we have to be spot-on for the last two days - and that's our goal. We have to play aggressively and go for it. We do not have much room to manoeuvre.
Requiring 8.5 points overall to win and retain the title for Asia for the first time in Royal Trophy history, Yang warned his players against complacency heading into Saturday's fourball matches.
He said: We just have to keep playing the same way. Most of our Asian team are playing very well at the moment and if we can keep up this form then I'm confident that we can win the Royal Trophy again.
Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee and Kiradech Aphibarnrat set the tone by putting the first point on the board with a 5&3 thrashing of Scotsmen Paul Lawrie and Stephen Gallacher in the lead-off game.
Thongchai and Kiradech, the two highest ranked Asian players at 46th and 59th respectively in the Official World Golf Ranking, came out all guns blazing. Four-up through six they were never seriously threatened. Kiradech put the icing on the cake with a 35-foot eagle putt at 14.
Ryo Ishikawa and Hiroyuki Fujita extended the home team's advantage with a 3&2 defeat of Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts and Austrian Bernd Wiesberger. The Japanese duo raced into a three-hole lead after four and comfortably held their big-hitting opponents at bay.
Behind them, Koreans K.T. Kim and Kim Hyung-Sung combined brilliantly to see off the challenge of Spaniard Alvaro Quiros and Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen, 4&2. The highlight was Kim Hyung-Sung's nine-iron hole-out from 150 yards for an eagle-two at the fourth.
The sole bright spot for Olazabal came in the final clash in which England's David Howell and Scotland's Marc Warren salvaged a much-needed point with a 2&1 success against China's Liang Wenchong and Wu Ashun, ensuring the Europeans avoided a foursomes whitewash.
All square through seven holes, the turning point came at the par-five eighth where Warren holed out with a miraculous bunker shot from a plugged lie for a winning birdie. The Europeans won the next two holes and were able to ease home.
Warren said: "Playing an Asian team in Asia there was always going to be an onslaught on the first day. We were just trying to get something on the board for Europe."
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