EurAsia Cup: Opening day defeat for Fitzpatrick and Willett pairing

Matt Fitzpatrick

Matt Fitzpatrick

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Steel City duo Danny Willett and Matt Fitzpatrick were the only European pairing to lose a match on the first day of the EurAsia Cup in Malaysia.

The Sheffield golfers were paired together for the opening fourballs but suffered a 3&1 defeat to Byeong-hun An and Thongchai Jaidee.

Fitzpatrick and Willett had looked well placed to win a point for Europe after brilliant putting saw them carry a two hole lead into the back nine.

But An and Jaidee roared back, winning the 11th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th holes to seal Asia’s first point.

Europe, captained by Darren Clarke, would finish the day in a commanding lead of 4 and a half to one and a half.

Soren Kjeldsen and an injury-hit Victor Dubuisson halved their match with Danny Chia and Nicholas Fung.

Willett will once again tackle An and Jaidee on Saturday but this time in the foursomes format, partnering Ian Poulter with a 1.35am tee time.

Fitzpatrick will join veteran Lee Westwood in taking on Anirban Lahiri and Ashun Wu, starting at 2.50am.

Clarke, who will also lead Europe in the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine in October, saw team talisman Poulter lead from the front by partnering Bernd Wiesberger to a 4&3 win over Lahiri and Jeunghun Wang.

And Clarke’s other wild card Westwood also justified his selection by combining with fellow Englishman Chris Wood to beat Kiradech Aphibarnrat and SSP Chawrasia 2&1 in the final match.

In between there were also wins for Ross Fisher and Kristoffer Broberg, who thrashed Prayad Marksaeng and KT Kim 6&4, and Shane Lowry and Andy Sullivan over Wu and Shingo Katayama.

“A three-point lead after day one, it’s a wonderful start for Europe,” said Clarke, who will be taking nothing for granted after Europe squandered a 5-0 lead in the inaugural contest two years ago, which ended in a 10-10 draw.

“There were a lot of matches there that it could have swung either way on the back nine.

“Halfway around Europe were leading in all the matches.

“I was on the radio to a few of the other guys and said, ‘This is match play, Asia are going to come back at some stage on the back nine, and that’s exactly what they did.’

“We had a strong couple of matches and managed to finish with a very good result.”

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