Europe fight back to defeat Asia in EurAsia Cup

Nicolas Anil
Team Europe were all smiles after coming from behind to beat Asia on the last day in Kuala Lumpur

Europe came from behind to defeat Asia 14-10 and retain the EurAsia Cup title Sunday, in a boost for captain Thomas Bjorn as he gears up for the Ryder Cup.

Bjorn's side entered the final day of the tournament in Malaysia trailing Asia by one point but put on a masterclass in the singles, winning eight out of 12 matches.

It was a disappointment for Indian captain Arjun Atwal's men, as Team Asia had ended the first two days of the event -- which featured foursome and fourball matches -- with a slim lead.

Asia has never won the biennial Ryder Cup-style tournament. Europe thrashed them the last time it was held in 2016 while the inaugural 2014 edition ended in a tie.

Europe dominated from the start Sunday and their winning point came when Belgium's Thomas Pieters defeated South Korea's An Byeong-Hun in a hard-fought match.

Bjorn hailed his side's victory in the $4.8 million event: "It was a great performance today from every single one of them. 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 USA in France in September.

"I learned a lot about myself this week," said Bjorn, whose team included six Ryder Cup veterans. "I learned a lot about these 12 players, and they have all got potential to be in Paris in nine months time."

- 'Very proud' -

Despite the loss, Atwal said he was "very proud" of his team.

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

"It looked like every time I watched my players, they were hitting the edges and it seemed Europe, every time I watched them, were either chipping in or making birdies."

Bjorn's side, all European Tour winners, won seven of the eight first matches Sunday at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club near Kuala Lumpur.

In his showdown, Pieters started strongly by winning four of the first six holes against An to establish a strong lead but the Korean fought back and levelled the match.

The Belgian scored a seven-foot putt at the 15th to move back out in front before winning another hole, ensuring Europe would retain the trophy.

"It's always nice to get the winning point," Pieters said.

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

Sweden's Alex Noren earlier got the Europeans off to a good start by beating Malaysia's Nicholas Fung 4-2 to level the tournament at 6 1/2 each.

Spain's Rafa Cabrera Bello then defeated Malaysia's Gavin Green 4-3, and victories followed for Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, world number nine Henrik Stenson and a host of other Europeans.

Asia salvaged some pride with three points from victories by Thailand's Poom Saksansin, Japan's Yuta Ikeda and China's Li Haotong.

South Korea's Kang Sung-Hoon halved his match with England's Matthew Fitzpatrick.

"It's disappointing that we lost but hopefully two years later, we can win," said South Korea's An. "We're getting closer."