Paul Casey insisted Europe were not guilty of complacency after losing the opening session of the third EurAsia Cup at Glenmarie Golf & Country Club.
Casey and Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood gave Thomas Bjorn’s side a flying start with a 4&3 victory over Ben An and Kiradech Aphibarnrat in the opening fourball match, but Team Asia fought back to lead 3.5 to 2.5 after day one.
The inaugural contest finished as a 10-10 tie in 2014, with Europe cruising to a 13-point victory two years ago and entering this year’s contest as prohibitive favourites.
“We’re not underestimating this team by any means,” insisted Casey, who rejoined the European Tour at the start of the season in order to be eligible for September’s Ryder Cup, where Bjorn will also captain the European side.
“We are taking this very seriously, so the score you see on the leaderboard right now is not through complacency. Clearly, they have played some amazing golf to be in this position.”
The best golf indeed came from Sunghoon Kang and Poom Saksansin, who started with eight straight birdies on their way to a 5&4 win over Henrik Stenson and Alexander Levy, with Yuta Ikeda and Gavin Green beating Thomas Pieters and Matt Fitzpatrick 2&1.
Ross Fisher and Tyrrell Hatton got Europe back on level terms with a 5&4 win over Anirban Lahiri and SSP Chawrasia, but Alex Noren and Paul Dunne lost to Hideto Tanihara and Phachara Khongwatmai by two holes and the match between Bernd Wiesberger and Rafa Cabrera Bello and Li Haotong and Nicholas Fung was halved.
“I’ve been talking to the guys all week that (we should) expect them to come out firing,” European captain Bjorn said. “Expect them to be 100 per cent up for this and they are going to go out and play some good golf.
“When I look at the scoring in the groups I feel like, yeah, a couple of guys might feel like they should have done better, but in general there was a lot of good golf from our side.@
Day two will feature six foursome matches, with 12 singles taking place on Sunday.