The season so far: Simply Magical

Thu 24 Jul 2014

The season so far: Simply Magical

  • SHARE
July 24: It was called as the Ryder Cup of the East, with 10 of the finest golfing stars from Asia and Europe going head-to-head in a match-play showdown in Malaysia.
It certainly did not disappoint as the inaugural EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM, in March, will go down into the sporting history books as one of the most thrilling intercontinental showdowns the world has ever witnessed.
Following an opening day whitewash when Europe, led by the charismatic Miguel Angel Jimenez, took a commanding 5-0 lead, Team Asia dug deep to produce a drama and tension-filled 10-10 draw after winning the foursomes and singles sessions against all odds.
The fans who converged at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club got their money worth as the EurAsia Cup came down to the last singles match on the course between Hideto Tanihara and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, who halved their match on the 18th green.
Call it whichever way you want but for Team Asia, led by inspirational captain Thongchai Jaidee, ‘The Miracle of Malaysia’ had a nice ring to it.
Jimenez, the only player to win all his three matches, summed up the exhilarating contest aptly: “It's an amazing day of golf. It's been very tough. The Europeans did not win the tournament and the Asian Team played very well. That showed that golf is very, very healthy all over the world. Nobody lost – we both won. For this to be the first edition of the EurAsia Cup, that was excellent.””
The EurAsia Cup, sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour, was a contest not for the faint-hearted.
After the opening day where Team Asia endured a lesson in matchplay golf at the hands of the Europeans, it seemed like it was mission impossible for Team Asia to get themselves back into the match.
But golf, like in life, has its fair share of fairy-tale finishes and they do come with a happy ending, especially for a courageous Team Asia.
Fortune favours the brave and Thongchai and his band of merry men, who were bounded together by pride and honour in representing Asia, fought gallantly to win the second day’s foursome session 3-2, with India’s Anirban Lahiri playing a crucial role in securing a vital point in the last match on the course by holing a huge putt on the final green.
Playing with Bangladeshi Siddikur Rahman, Lahiri sunk a pressure-filled putt to provide Asia with a lifeline with their victory over Joost Luiten and Victor Dubuisson as the second day scoreline reflected a 7-3 advantage for Team Europe.
Thongchai rallied his troops and day three was a day of redemption as Asia defied all odds and crawled back from the dead.
Jimenez was pushed to the distance by Nicholas Fung and it only took a moment of brilliance from the Spaniard on the 18th green to finally defeat the young Malaysian.
That victory proved to be only one of the two wins for Team Europe with Luiten winning the other point in his battle against Japan’s Koumei Oda.
The tide turned remarkably for Team Asia as captain marvel Thongchai brushed aside Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell 3&2 while Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn was beaten 2&1 by 2013 Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand. Korea’s Kim Hyung-sung was a 4&2 winner over Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal while Lahiri repeated his heroics over Dubuisson with a 2&1 win.
India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar outclassed Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen 4&3 while Siddikur Rahman overcame Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher by the same margin. Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng finished all-square against Wales’ Jamie Donaldson to level the contest at 9½-9½, leaving the decider to the last match between Fernandez-Castano and Tanihara.
Both men fought like gladiators and it was fitting that the match was halved at the end, with the Spaniard conceding a short putt to Tanihara after he had made par from about three feet.
Thongchai said: “Every member of my team was a hero. Everyone played really well but the match itself was unbelievable. It was a great finish and to end the contest on the final holes in the final match, I’ve never seen anything like it. It was amazing.”
Ends.