Kuala Lumpur: A dominant Europe won eight of the 12 singles matches against Asia on Sunday in a rousing rally to successfully defend their EurAsia Cup title with a 14-10 victory in Malaysia.
Arjun Atwal’s Asia had led the third edition of the biennial matchplay contest following the opening two days of fourballs and foursomes but were swept aside when the players were sent out alone at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club.
Thomas Bjorn’s visitors began Sunday with a 6 1/2-5 1/2 deficit but turned the scoreboard blue in eight of the first nine matches to secure their title defence when Belgium’s Thomas Pieters scored the winning point.
The victory will act as a welcome boost for Bjorn, who will also captain Europe at the Ryder Cup in France this September, with the hosts looking to regain the trophy they lost to the United States at Hazeltine in 2016.
“I’m delighted the way these 12 came out today. They have been fantastic all week. We had a really good group and we worked hard,” Bjorn said after Pieters beat An Byeong-un of South Korea 1-up to seal Europe’s triumph.
“It was mostly up to them last night and they wanted to go out and show what they are really about and they certainly did that today.”
Belgian Pieters raced to a 4-up lead against An but the South Korean fought back to level the match. Pieters then holed a seven-foot putt at the 15th to regain the lead and then won the next hole to ensure his team would retain the trophy.
“It’s always nice to get the winning point,” he said. “I got off to a good start, then played pretty poorly during the middle, then made a couple of very good birdies.”
Alex Noren started Europe’s charge in the first game when he erased Asia’s slender advantage with a 4 and 2 win over Malaysian Nicholas Fung.
Rafa Cabrera Bello then beat Gavin Green 4 and 3 to put the defending champions ahead before 2017 Race to Dubai winner Tommy Fleetwood gave Europe their third point in a row with a 2 and 1 victory against S.S.P Chawrasia of India.
Poom Saksansin cut the deficit when he beat Paul Casey 1-up but Henrik Stenson re-established a two-point cushion with his 2 and 1 win over Hideto Tanihara.
In Hawaii, some of the world’s top professional golfers were panicked by a false report of an incoming ballistic missile on Saturday, with one hiding under a mattress and another fleeing to the basement of his Honolulu hotel.
The alert, issued shortly after 8 am local time (1800 GMT), was sent mistakenly some three hours before the start of the third round of the PGA Tour’s Sony Open.
“So.......this can’t be good. Everyone is freaking out in the hotel,” Steve Wheatcroft tweeted.
Another player, J.J. Spaun, took refuge in his hotel basement.
“Barely any service. Can you send confirmed message over radio or tv,” he said in a tweet at 8.26 am.
Two minutes after that, John Peterson revealed the evasive steps he had taken.
“Under mattresses in the bathtub with my wife, baby and in-laws. Please lord let this bomb threat not be real,” tweeted Peterson, who was tied for second place halfway through the tournament.
Peterson and Spaun evidently took longer than Justin Thomas to receive word the warning had been sent out by mistake.
“To all that just received the warning along with me this morning ... apparently it was a ‘mistake’ — hell of a mistake!! Haha glad to know we’ll all be safe,” Thomas, the defending champion and world number four, tweeted at the same time as Spaun.
Europe 14 Asia 10
Alex Noren (SWE) bt Nicholas Fung (MAS) 4&2
Rafa Cabrera Bello (ESP) bt Gavin Green (MAS) 4&3
Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) bt S.S.P. Chawrasia (IND) 2&1
Paul Casey (ENG) lost to Poom Saksansin (THA) 1up
Henrik Stenson (SWE) bt Hideto Tanihara (JPN) 2&1
Bernd Wiesberger (AUT) bt Phachara Khongwatmai (THA) 2&1
Alexander Levy (FRA) bt Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 3&1
Thomas Pieters (BEL) bt An Byeong-Hun (KOR) 1up
Tyrrell Hatton (ENG) bt Anirban Lahiri (IND) 2&1
Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG) halved with Kang Sung-Hoon (KOR)
Paul Dunne (IRL) lost to Li Haotong (CHN) 3&1
Ross Fisher (ENG) lost to Yuta Ikeda (JPN) 1up