European Tour

Asia close to Trophy defence

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Getty)
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Getty)

Dec 21 - Asia require three-and-a-half points from Sunday's eight singles matches against Europe to defend the Royal Trophy after the teams split Saturday's fourballs at the Dragon Lake Golf Club in Guangzhou, China to give the holders a 5-3 advantage.

Leading 3-1 after Friday's foursomes, Asia stretched their advantage to three points thanks to Thai pair Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Thongchai Jaidee's 2&1 victory over Scots Paul Lawrie and Stephen Gallacher.

Europe, led by Ryder Cup-winning captain Jose Maria Olazabal, looked set for victory in the second match with Britons David Howell and Marc Warren two-up on the 17th tee against Liang Wenchong and Wu Ashun only to crumble at the finish.

Chinese duo Liang and Wu went birdie-birdie over the closing holes to snatch what looked to be a crucial half with Howell and Warren only able to bogey the par-four 18th.

Austria's Bernd Wiesberger and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen managed Europe's only win of the day with a 2&1 victory over out-of-sorts Japanese pair Ryo Ishikawa and Hiroyuki Fujita to make the score 4.5-2.5 in Asia's favour.

South Korean duo Kim Hyung-sung and Kim Kyung-tae appeared on the verge of restoring Asia's three-point cushion in the final match but they too let slip a two-up lead with two to play against Spain's Alvaro Quiros and Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts.

Quiros hit a brilliant approach from the trees to within four feet that set up a birdie on the last to grab the unlikely half and stay within two points of Asia.

Second day scores on Saturday in the seventh Royal Trophy between Asia and Europe at the Dragon Lake Golf Club:

Fourballs

Thongchai Jaidee/Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Asia) bt Stephen Gallacher/Paul Lawrie (Europe) 2 and 1

Liang Wenchong/Wu Ashun (Asia) halved with David Howell/Marc Warren (Europe)

Ryo Ishikawa/Hiroyuki Fujita (Asia) lost to Bernd Wiesberger/Thorbjorn Olesen (Europe) 2 and 1

Kim Kyung-tae/Kim Hyung-sung (Asia) halved with Nicolas Colsaerts/Alvaro Quiros (Europe)

Score: Asia 2 Europe 2

Friday

Foursomes

Thongchai Jaidee/Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Asia) bt Stephen Gallacher/Paul Lawrie (Europe) 5 and 3

Ryo Ishikawa/Hiroyuki Fujita (Asia) bt Nicolas Colsaerts/Bernd Wiesberger (Europe) 3 and 2

KT Kim/Kim Hyung-Sung (Asia) bt Alvaro Quiros/Thorbjorn Olesen (Europe) 4 and 2

Liang Wenchong/Wu Ashun (Asia) lost to David Howell/Marc Warren (Europe) 2 and 1

Score: Asia 3 Europe 1

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