Thursday, 27 March 2014
Miguel Angel Jimenez  (Getty Images)
Miguel Angel Jimenez (Getty Images)
Miguel Angel Jiménez led from the front as a rampant European side claimed a 5-0 lead from Thursday’s fourballs at the EURASIA CUP presented by DRB-HICOM.

Europe’s Captain put himself out in the first match with fellow Spaniard Pablo Larrazábal and was the star of the show in a 2 and 1 victory over Asia skipper Thongchai Jaidee and fellow Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

The 50 year old carded two eagles and three birdies at Glenmarie Golf & Country Club as Europe took the first point of the day.

“Miguel played great,” said Larrazábal. “He had like three or four birdie chances where he made birdie and he was amazing. I was there when he needed me but he played great.”

Victor Dubuisson and Joost Luiten then secured a 3 and 2 victory over Prayad Marksaeng, before Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño and Stephen Gallacher completed a 4 and three win over Anirban Lahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar moments later.

Danes Thomas Björn and Thorbjørn Olesen were taken to the final hole before taking a two up win against Japan’s Koumei Oda and Hideto Tanihara, while Graeme McDowell and Jamie Donaldson fought back from three down through seven holes to overcome Nicholas Fung and Kim Hyung-sung 3 and 1.

With nine of their ten players having won on The European Tour since the start of 2013, Europe were in superb form and Fernandez-Castaño’s eagle from the fairway at the first and Luiten hitting the pin with his second at the long 11th to leave a tap-in eagle were among the highlights of a breath-taking display.

“I think we played all right, we played consistent,” said Luiten. “We made birdies on different holes so there was not a hole that we made both birdie on so that really helped. 

“I think we played some solid golf.”

Ryder Cup hero McDowell - who sealed the winning point from the final singles match at The Celtic Manor Resort in 2010 - and Welshman Donaldson surprisingly found themselves three down after seven holes to Kim and local favourite 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.

Donaldson birdies on the 13th and 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.

With a total of 20 points to play for in the match, Jimenez's side were left needing just five and a half more from Friday's five foursomes matches and Saturday's 10 singles to secure overall victory.

“We had a slow start,” admitted Donaldson. “We had five pars which was quite slow, but after that Graeme holed a good couple of putts on the front nine and he birdied six, eight and nine and after that I played well and we dovetailed really well to close out the match on 17. 

“We have had a very good day today. To be five nil up is a fantastic start. 

“We have always said during practice that we simply can't underestimate our opponents because the end of the day, we are playing in Malaysia, it's so hot and the courses favour them.  

“We just had a very good day today and we have to not get complacent, get out tomorrow and continue to play well and not take it for granted, although we have had a very good start.”

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