Thomas Bjorn’s “dress rehearsal” for the Ryder Cup is not going well. The Dane’s European team trails Team Asia 5 ½ – 6 ½ heading into the decisive singles session of the EurAsia Cup in Kuala Lumpur.
Bjorn was hoping his side would bounce back in the foursomes after a surprise 2 ½-3 ½ loss to Arjun Atwal’s team in the four-ball. However, the two teams split the session 3-3.
European No. 1 Tommy Fleetwood and Henrik Stenson got Europe off to a flyer with a 3-and-2 victory over Indians S.S.P. Chawrasia and Anirban Lahiri before Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton ran out 2-and-1 winners over Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Byeong Hun An.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Alexander Levy appeared to be cruising to victory with a two-hole lead over Gavin Green and Yuta Ikeda after 14 holes, but the Asians won the next three holes and won by one hole.
Matthew Fitzpatrick and Thomas Pieters won 3-and-2 against Poom Saksansin and Sunghoon Kang to give Bjorn hope of winning the session, but his final two pairings let him down. Paul Dunne and Alex Noren lost 2-and-1 to Phachara Khongwatmai and Hideto Tanihara, while Ross Fisher and Bernd Wiesberger went down, 3-and-1, to Haotong Li and Nicholas Fung.
“We got off to a really good start today and things looked like (they were) going our way, but at the end there was a comeback by the Asian team and it ended up three-three,” Bjorn said. “Not quite what we were looking for.
“We believe we can go out in 12 singles and win the singles matches and win this tournament.”
Atwal’s side is far weaker on paper but is punching above its weight on home soil. “Even though we were down early in a lot of matches, we weren’t getting blown out,” he said. “If you’re just one or two down, matches can flip. The guys really putted well today. The guys that won their matches putted lights out, and kudos to them.”
Europe entered the match as heavy favorites, but will have to dominate the singles to help give Bjorn a taste of success before he captains Europe in this year’s Ryder Cup.