Economy

China's Li Haotong helps Team Asia lead in Eurasia Cup

China's Li Haotong helps Team Asia lead in Eurasia Cup

Thomas Bjorn's visitors began Sunday with a 6½-5½ 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.

Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton, both from England, put Team Europe ahead with a 2-1 victory over Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat and South Korea's An Byeong-Hun.

Asia had led by a slim margin coming into the individual play, but they were soundly beaten by the Europeans, who are using the match play tournament as a dress rehearsal for the Ryder Cup later this year.

Belgian Thomas Pieters clinched the triumph with an impressive victory over former BMW PGA champion Ben An, leaving Bjorn feeling a happy man in the end after the first two days hadn't gone to plan in Europe's warm up event for the Ryder Cup in Paris later in the year. Europe thrashed Asia the last time it was held in 2016 while the inaugural 2014 edition ended in a tie. "When you're one or two down in matchplay, you can easily flip that, and they did", Asia captain Arjun Atwal said. "They came off the golf course yesterday and there was a determination and a will of wanting to win this".

The Dane is also Europe's Ryder Cup captain and the Malaysian event was a chance for him to run the rule over a heavyweight European side before the showdown against the US in France in September. "It's been wonderful to see and I learned a lot about myself and about these 12 players this week, and today their performance was outstanding".

"I think that's what I take away from this week - 12 great guys, 12 guys that wants to go places in the game of golf".

Belgium's Thomas Pieters scored the winning point by beating South Korea's Byeong Hun An by one hole
Belgium's Thomas Pieters scored the winning point by beating South Korea's Byeong Hun An by one hole

"They are all awesome players, it's just unfortunate that we ran into a buzzsaw today", he said.

The pair notched up three birdies on the final four holes for a one-hole victory over Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello and Alexander Levy of France. 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.

Pieters told the European Tour website: "It's always nice to get the winning point". Got off to a good start.

"I got off to a good start, then played pretty poorly during the middle, then made a couple of very good birdies".

The other Asian golfers to win on Sunday were Thailand's Poom Saksansin and Japan's Yuta Ikeda, the highest ranked member of the team on the world rankings at 36. South Korea's Kang Sung-Hoon halved his match with England's Matthew Fitzpatrick.

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