Asia fight back against Europe

2012-12-15 13:17

Brunei - Birthday boy Jeev Milkha Singh prompted a stirring second round Asian fightback on Saturday to keep alive non-playing captain Naomichi "Joe" Ozaki's hopes of regaining the Royal Trophy.

With the Jose Maria Olazabal-led European side struggling to reproduce its brilliant opening-day form, Asia hauled its way back into contention on a day of wildly fluctuating fortunes at the Empire Hotel and Country Club in Brunei.

Trailing 3 1/2 - 1/2 after the opening-day foursomes in the Ryder Cup-style event, Asia triumphed 3-1 in the fourballs section, with two of the matches going to the final hole and the other two decided in Asia's favour on the 17th green.

Leading 4 1/2 -3 1/2 overall, Europe requires four points from Sunday's eight singles to secure a fifth Royal Trophy success from six attempts, while Asia needs to amass five points.

Olazabal, who nursed a neck injury during the round, said: "I said yesterday that things can turn around very quickly in match play and they did. Asia played well. The match is now on and we're going to have to play very well in the singles."

Celebrating his 41st birthday, Indian Singh denied experienced Spaniards Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez victory when he holed a knee-trembling four-footer for par on the 18th green.

Having watched his partner Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand and both Europeans miss their putts it was a key moment.

"That was a half that felt like a win considering the position we were in on the final hole. I may have been the one who holed the putt, but it was a real team effort. Kiradech is a young boy with a lot of potential," said Singh.

"It was nice to hear the crowd singing 'Happy Birthday'. They might not have bothered if I had missed on 18."

No sooner had the galleries stopped signing than Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts briefly burst the Asian bubble with a birdie putt at 18 to gain a half for himself and German Marcel Siem against South Korean Bae Sang-moon and China's Wu Ashun.

However, to the relief of Ozaki and the delight of the home support, Asia prevailed in the two remaining matches.

Suffering from a back strain, Y. E. Yang was receiving physio treatment just 20 minutes before teeing-off with fellow South Korean Kim Kyung-tae against Swede Henrik Stenson and Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.

But Yang showed no signs of pain as he holed his nine-iron approach from 130 yards for an eagle-two at the opening hole. When Kim holed out with his approach from the fairway for an eagle two at the ninth, the Asian duo were five-up.

Second day scores on Saturday in the sixth Royal Trophy between Asia and Europe at the Empire Hotel and Country Club:

Match score: Europe leads Asia 4 1/2 - 3 1/2 (Overnightscore:Europe3 1/2 -Asia1/2)


Asia bt Europe 3 - 1

MiguelAngelJimenez/JoseMariaOlazabal(Europe)halvedwithKiradechAphibarnrat/JeevMilkha Singh (Asia)

NicolasColsaerts/MarcelSiem(Europe)halvedwithBaeSang-Moon/WuAshun (Asia)