Danny Chia waves red flag as dominant Europe promise no let up in EurAsia Cup
Malaysian player calls out Ian Poulter ahead of Sunday showdown at the Glenmarie club, where the Asians need 9.5 points to snatch victory
Malaysian hero Danny Chia has waved a proverbial “red flag” in the face of EurAsia Cup rival Ian Poulter after being informed he would face off with the Englishman during the opening match of the deciding Sunday Singles in Kuala Lumpur.
Team Asia need to win nine-and-half points from the 12 points up for grabs on the last day to claim an improbable victory at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club in the Malaysian capital.
Their cause was not helped when the Darren Clarke captained Europeans stormed from a three-point overnight lead to win four of the Saturday fourball encounters, halved another and lost just one to their Asian rivals.
It handed the European Team a 9-3 leading advantage in the second staging of the biennial event.
On Sunday, Chia will face Poulter in the opening match.
The 42-year old Malaysian lives in Kuala Lumpur and has won twice on the Asian Tour while securing one other victory last year to cement his place in the Asian Team.
However, when Chia was asked what he thought about going up against his 40-year old English-born opponent – a winner of 12 European Tour victories and veteran of five Ryder Cups – he brushed off his rival.
“Ian who? Ian who? ” said Chia smiling. “It’s match play so it doesn’t matter. I don’t care who it is. If he hits a bad shot, it’s still a bad shot.
“So it doesn’t matter if it’s Ian Poulter. As I say, you know, I just have to hit it decent, we have a fighting chance. So it doesn’t matter who I play.”
Asian Team captain Jeev Milka Singh admitted his inexperienced squad have an uphill task to deny the visiting Europeans.
“You know, when your back is against the wall, the only way is up, or you’ve just got to push yourself,” said Singh. “There’s no other option for our team.”
Clarke, who is also the current European Ryder Cup captain, could not have been more delighted with team lynchpins Lee Westwood and Poulter who again won both their matches against Asian Tour rivals.
Europe now needs to secure just 3.5 of the 12 points up for grabs in Sunday’s deciding singles matches to claim the trophy after the inaugural 2014 tournament ended in a 10-10 draw.
“I am a very excited captain but this morning Asia came at us strongly, and we expected that, but the quality of the European guys showed as they just knuckled down, fought hard so I feel very pleased with the overall result,” said Clarke.
“My advice now to the team is that there be no complacency. I’ve been in a few Ryder Cup scenarios where we have had big leads and it hasn’t worked out.
“But first and foremost ... I want the guys to go out and enjoy themselves and go and play well.”
Saturday’s second round commenced with Europe leading 4.5-1.5 over Asia.
And for the second day running Poulter, a veteran of five Ryder Cup campaigns, set the tone, teaming up with fellow Englishman Danny Willett, to win 3&2 over Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee and An Byeong-hun from South Korea.
In a 10-minute period Europe then secured three quick points to race ahead 8.5-1.5 as Bernd Wiesberger of Austria and England’s Ross Fisher won 2-up over the Korean pairing of Kim Kyung-tae and Wang Jeung-hun.
Westwood and 21-year-old Matthew Fitzpatrick snatched the biggest win of day two with a 5&4 triumph over Asian Tour number one Anirban Lahiri from India and China’s Wu Ashun.
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and India’s SSP Chawrasia recorded the Asian team’s only victory, finishing 2-up after a birdie on the last hole against Swede Kristoffer Broberg and England’s Chris Wood.
“It was a great way to finish with a birdie but then we both were playing solid golf ... and really played well as a team,” Aphibarnrat said.
Ireland’s Shane Lowry and Andrew Sullivan from England stayed unbeaten in the team format, winning 3&2 over Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng and Japan’s Shingo Katayama.
The final match of the day -– with Soren Kjeldsen from Sweden and Frenchman Victor Dubuisson playing Malaysians Chia and Nicholas Fung – was halved.