By Ni Yinbin in Brunei | 2012-12-15 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
THE Asian team survived an European onslaught on the first day of four foursome matches for the Royal Trophy in Brunei yesterday.
Europe took a commanding 3 1/2-1/2 lead in the annual contest loosely based on the Ryder Cup model on a day when Chinese youngster Wu Ashun made his debut in the tournament for Asia.
Wu teamed up with Japan's Yoshinori Fujimoto but watched Italian brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari record a 2&1 win after firing six birdies in seven holes from the ninth. The Asian duo were 1-up before the break after 9 of the 18 holes.
The Italians run of birdies came either side of a two-hour break in play.
The all-rookie Asian pair let the Molinari brothers off the hook when Wu's birdie putt lipped out on the eighth, and Edoardo holed a 30-footer on the ninth to ensure the hole would be halved in birdies.
That seemed to swing the match in favor of the Italians, who have triumphed in both the Ryder Cup and the World Cup of Golf. The pair rattled off four more birdies at the start of the second nine and cancelled out Fujimoto's defiant birdie from 12 feet on the short 14th with yet another birdie of their own on the 15th.
"The break was important, but really our match turned on eight and nine. We could easily have lost them both, so we did not feel too unhappy at being one down," said Francesco Molinari.
"Edoardo holed from around 30 feet on nine to cancel out their birdie, which made us feel good for the start of the back 9. We hit some terrific shots and birdied the first four holes in the afternoon and momentum is a difficult thing to halt in Match Play. It was a good match," he said.
Asian team's vice captain Liang Wenchong believed the noon break helped the Italians as well as Macel Siem and Nicolas Colsaerts, who were also down by one before the break.
"Ashun played good today and he and Yoshinori were leading one up before the two-hour break, but the European Team came back quickly after the break. That's golf but the situation can change," Liang said.
Liang said the situation was not ideal and today's round of matches will be crucial.
South Korean duo Y.E. Yang and Kim Kyung-tae produced a gutsy late fightback to deny Spaniards Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal.
Already two-down after 13 holes, the pair finished strongly to salvage a half point to prevent Naomichi 'Joe' Ozaki's Asia team from suffering the ignominy of losing all four foursomes to Europe.
Swede Henrik Stenson and Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano produced a spectacular birdie barrage to put the first point on the board for Europe with a crushing 5 and 4 win over Japan's Ryo Ishikawa and Korean Bae Sang-moon.