Friday, 19 March 2010
The Royal Trophy - Previews  (Getty Images)
The Royal Trophy - Previews (Getty Images)

Asia's bid for a first victory in The Royal Trophy was on track today after the hosts took a 3-1 advantage over Europe after the opening foursomes.

Europe were twice ahead in all four matches early on but blustery conditions hampered their progress on a topsy-turvy opening day at the pristine Amata Spring Country Club near Bangkok.

Asia bounced back to lead in three matches around the turn and consolidated their position on the inward nine as they took the ascendancy in their attempt to derail Europe's bid for a third successive title.

Scotland's Paul Lawrie and Denmark's Soren Hansen beat Japanese duo Ryo Ishikawa and Toru Taniguchi 2 and 1 in the front group before Thai pair Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaeng wrapped up a comfortable 5 and 4 triumph over Niclas Fasth and Johan Edfors to draw the tournament level.

China's Liang Wen-chong and South Korea's Charlie Wi won the last three holes to finish two up against Paul McGinley and Spain's Pablo Larrazabal - the Irishman's first loss in three appearances at The Royal Trophy.

Englishmen Oliver Wilson and Nick Dougherty then stumbled at the last as Hideto Tanihara and SK Ho secured Asia a two point advantage going into the fourballs.

Lawrie believes remaining patient was the key to the triumph in the leading match.

The Scot and partner Hansen were ahead for much of the outward nine but Ishikawa and Taniguchi hit birdies on the ninth and tenth and remained one up until the 14th.

A bogey by the Asian pair drew the contest level before successive birdies put Europe two up with two to play.

"We've both played Ryder Cup and you learn to expect the unexpected," said Lawrie, who played in the 1999 Ryder Cup in Brookline and is making his debut in The Royal Trophy a decade on.

"They holed a few big, big putts just to stay one up, but you expect that in these types of team matches.

"You've just got to keep going and keep grinding away and hope for a break.

"Sixteen was a big hole for us. I decided to knock it down there and Soren hit a beautiful chip into the green - much the same as he had on 15 - and I managed to roll the putt in."

Buoyed by a partisan support, Jaidee and Marksaeng made five birdies in the opening eight holes to leave their Swedish opponents in their wake.

Fasth and Edfors could not recover and conceded holes 11 and 13 before a further European bogey ensured the Thai duo would level the tournament.

"We were slow starting as every match we were down but we came back," Jaidee said.

"After turning the front nine leading by two holes we were confident.

"We had a good partnership going and it was a good win."

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