sport

Europe make strong start

Captain Miguel Angel Jimenez led by example as Europe drew first blood in the inaugural EurAsia Cup in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

Jimenez put himself out in the first match with fellow Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal and was the star of the show in a 2&1 victory over Asia captain Thongchai Jaidee and fellow Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

The 50-year-old carded two eagles and three birdies at Glenmarie Golf and Country Club and looked set to inspire his side to a big lead from the opening day's five fourball matches.

The Danish pair of Thomas Bjorn and Thorbjorn Olesen were also closing in on victory over Japan's Koumei Oda and Hideto Tanihara, 10 holes in a row being halved after the European duo went two up on the fifth.

France's Victor Dubuisson and Joost Luiten were three up after 14 holes against Bangladesh's Siddikur Rahman and Thailand's Prayad Marksaeng, the highlight coming when Dubuisson drove into the water on the par-five 11th but saw Luiten then hit the pin with his second shot to leave a tap-in for a winning eagle.

Stephen Gallacher and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano were three up against Indian pair Gaganjeet Bhullar and Anirban Lahiri, with Fernandez-Castano getting off to a flying start by holing his second shot to the first for an eagle two.

After being conceded the fifth to move two up, Gallacher then eagled the par-five 11th from 15 feet and Fernandez-Castano birdied the next to lie four up with five holes to play.

Ryder Cup hero Graeme McDowell - who sealed the winning point from the final singles match at Celtic Manor in 2010 - and Welshman Jamie Donaldson surprisingly found themselves three down after seven holes to Kim Hyung-sung and local favourite Nicholas Fung, who had birdied the third, fifth and seventh.

But world number 14 McDowell, who had a 26-hour journey from Orlando after playing in the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday, birdied the eighth and ninth and Donaldson holed from seven feet for eagle on the 11th to get back to all square.

Luiten and Dubuisson - who could be Ryder Cup team-mates in September - duly completed a 3&2 victory moments before Gallacher birdied the 15th to seal a 4&3 win for himself and Fernandez-Castano.

And it was 4-0 to Europe a few minutes later when Bjorn and Olesen closed out their match on the 18th, but only after losing the 16th and needing Olesen to make a good par save on the 17th to stay in front.

That left just one match out on the course and Europe were heading for a 5-0 whitewash after Donaldson's birdie on the 13th took him and McDowell one up on Kim and Fung.

Donaldson's birdie on the 16th was enough to move two up after Fung three-putted from long range and Kim duffed a bunker shot, and the victory and whitewash was completed on the next.

Jaidee admitted Europe had been the better side, adding: "Europe were very strong today. We played with Miguel in the first match, we played well and must have been eight under but he was about 11 under. Miguel didn't miss anything.

"We'll try again tomorrow and we will change our game plan. We will work really hard and think about making some points back before the singles.''

Lahiri added: "I guess we have our backs to the wall. There's only way we an move from here. We can't get any worse, can we?

"We have to hope that the Europeans get a little complacent and we have to up our games and play our best over the next two days, especially tomorrow, try and win at least four of the matches or 3 1/2 points.''