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Asia bounce back to narrow margin; Lahiri-Rahman pair shines

Saturday, 29 March 2014 - 3:15am IST | Agency: dna

Anirban Lahiri sank a pressure putt from just over 10 feet on the 18th to give Asia their second win in the foursomes that helped Team Asia salvage a lot of pride on Day Two of the EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM on Friday.

Two wins, one loss and two ties meant Asia actually had the better of exchanges 3-2. The score after two days read 7-3 in favour of Europe with 10 singles to come on Saturday.

Asia would need to do what Europe did to United States at the 2012 Ryder Cup, rallying from a four-point deficit to edge out US by half-a-point. Europe need 3.5 points to lift the cup while Asia will have to bring home a minimum of 7.5 for a sensational victory.

Asia's two full points came from the re-arranged teams – the Thai-Korean duo of Prayad Marksaeng and Kim Hyung-sung and the Indo-Bangladeshi pair of Anirban Lahiri and Siddikur Rahman, who beat Joost Luiten and Victor Dubuisson.

Anirban Lahiri said: "At one point we were up in all the matches. It would have been great if we got another point and a half."

Familiar with each other's game on the Japan Tour, Marksaeng and Kim combined to thrash the experienced Thomas Bjorn and Thorbjorn Olesen 4 & 3 while Lahiri and Siddikur Rahman, who were 2-up with two go, finally won by a hole. Lahiri and Rahman fed on each other's strength and egged each other in Bengali.

Gaganjeet Bhullar and his new partner Nicholas Fung of Malaysia went down 2 & 1 to McDowell and Donaldson despite leading 2-up after eight holes

Lahiri said: "I think he (Siddikur) is probably the easiest partner to play with because he doesn't miss. He hit every single fairway, and I'm used to hacking it out after my tee shots. It was easy and he's such a great friend of mine over the years."

About the final putt on the 18th, he added: "That was pretty much the putt for the day – I don't think I putted badly but between the two of us, we misread a few lines but gelled really well. On the last hole, TJ came in and he told us that Pablo also hit a hit putt from there. I want to thank my coach (Vijay Divecha), he's worked really hard on my putting, so I'm glad I pulled it off."

Making it sweeter was Divecha's presence here this week.

Lahiri-Siddikur lost the first hole but won the third with a birdie. They again fell back as Luiten-Dubuisson birdied the ninth. Birdies on 12th, 13th and 16th put the Asians 2-up. Luiten reduced it to one on 17th, only to see Lahiri sink the clutch par putt to seal a full point on 18th.

Siddikur was ecstatic. "We were really positive because I really like my partner, he's one of my best friends on the Tour. We only look at positives, even if we miss something."

Bhullar and Fung gave McDowell and Donaldson a scare going 2-up after eight. Then Fung seemed to crack and missed a couple of crucial putts to allow his rivals strike back. McDowell and Donaldson seized the chance and won the ninth, 13th, 15th and 16th with pars while their rivals bogeyed.

Bhullar put it philosophically, and said, "We gave ourselves a lot of opportunities but both of us made a few unforced errors on the back nine but I would say we gave it 100 per cent. We thought we could walk away with one point but it's golf, it's quite funny."

Then, quickly striking a very positive tone, Bhullar added, "Tomorrow (Saturday), we don't have anything to hold back. I have a feeling that, most of our guys are going to win tomorrow and it's going to be quite close."
For the second day running, the captains went together in the first lot of the foursomes. Miguel Angel Jimenez sank his third eagle (he had a fourth later) of the event on third to go 1-up. But Thongchai and Kiradech won the next two holes with birdies. The Europeans fought back on the ninth, before the Asians again forged ahead with a birdie on 10th. The Asians were still 1-up before Larrazabal rose to the occasion on the 18th to sink a 10-footer – an effort that Thongchai did well to tell Lahiri before the latter addressed did the same.

Marksaeng and Kim dominated the Danes, Bjorn and Olesen, while the Japanese Koumei Oda and Hideto Tanihara fought back from 3-down after seven only to allow Gonzalo Fernandez Castano and Stephen Gallacher to come back and halve the match.

Friday's Foursome Results: Asia bt Europe 3-2 (Thongchai/ Kiradech tied with AS Jimenez/ Larrazabal; Marksaeng/Kim bt Bjorn/ Olesen 4 & 3; Oda/ Tanihara AS tied with Fdez-Castano/ Gallacher; Rahman/ Lahiri bt Dubuisson/ Luiten by 1 hole; Bhullar/ Fung lost to McDowell/ Donaldson 2 & 1)

Saturday's singles: Fung vs Jimenez; Thongchai vs McDowell; Kiradech vs Bjorn; Marksaeng vs Donaldson; Kim vs Larrazabal; Lahiri vs Dubuisson; Bhullar vs Olesen; Oda vs Luiten; Tanihara vs Fdez-Castano; Rahman vs Gallacher

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