GUANGZHOU, China - Yang Yong-eun’s Team Asia stopped a comeback by Europe led by Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain with split scores in Four-Ball on Day 2 of the Royal Trophy golf championship at Dragon Lake Golf Club in on Saturday.
Day 2 on the Asian Games Course ended with a split score 2-2 in Fourball, with Thai pair Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Thongchai Jaidee proving they could be Team Asia’s most indispensable players.
Kim Hyoung-sung and Kim Kyung-tae faced a pulsating contest from Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts and Spain’s Alvaro Quiros that came right down to the wire, and the outcome was an exact reversal of the third match, with the European pair winning the final two holes to scramble for a crucial half point.
Quiros put his previous struggles behind him to fashion a majestic birdie at the last, sinking a nerve-jangling four footer to ensure the honors finished even in the Foursomes, and it is still all to play for in the Singles.
Asia is up 5-3 going into the Final Day of Singles on Sunday.
No-one could have predicted that outcome when Quiros hacked his opening drive almost into another province on the opening hole, leaving it to his partner to take the fight to the two Kims, who both split the fairway at the first.
Colsaerts matched them for accuracy off the tee, but then showed his erratic side by pulling his second shot miles left, almost onto the second tee. He produced a brilliant flop shot over the trees to save par, but Kim Kyung-tae kept calm among the mayhem to pop in a winning birdie.
Colsaerts hit back by rolling in a 12 footer to level the match on the second hole with a birdie, and his power set up another winning birdie at the drivable par four sixth to give them the lead for the first time.
The Belgian star was beginning to show the form that saw him make a record-breaking Ryder Cup debut last year, and another stunning tee shot at the short fifth took the Europeans two up.
But on a day of wildly fluctuating fortunes, the pendulum swung the way of the Asian partnership as they birdied three holes in a row from the eighth to move into the lead, and a superb up and down from Kim Hyoung-sung at the short 13th took them two up, but they had no answer to the final European onslaught.
Olazabal seeks to unhand Asia of the Royal Trophy after being a dealt defeat in the sixth Edition of the regional Europe versus Asia championship in Brunei last year. Sunday is the final day of the competition.
By Philip Iglauer, Korea Herald correspondent