Asia in command at Royal Trophy

Defending champions in pole position to retain title in China

Nicolas Colsaerts plays a shot on the 9th hole during the second day’s play at the Royal Trophy. Photograph: Victor Fraile/Getty Images

Nicolas Colsaerts plays a shot on the 9th hole during the second day’s play at the Royal Trophy. Photograph: Victor Fraile/Getty Images

Sat, Dec 21, 2013, 13:03

Asia require three-and-a-half points from Sunday’s eight singles matches against Europe to defend the Royal Trophy after the teams split Saturday’s fourballs at the Dragon Lake Golf Club in Guangzhou, China to give the holders a 5-3 advantage.

Leading 3-1 after Friday’s foursomes, Asia stretched their advantage to three points thanks to Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Thongchai Jaidee’s 2&1 victory over Paul Lawrie and Stephen Gallacher.

Europe, led by Ryder Cup-winning captain Jose Maria Olazabal, looked set for victory in the second match with David Howell and Marc Warren two-up on the 17th tee against Liang Wenchong and Wu Ashun only to crumble at the finish.

Chinese duo Liang and Wu went birdie-birdie over the closing holes to snatch what looked to be a crucial half with Howell and Warren only able to bogey the par-four 18th.

Bernd Wiesberger and Thorbjorn Olesen managed Europe’s only win of the day with a 2&1 victory over out-of-sorts Japanese pair Ryo Ishikawa and Hiroyuki Fujita to make the score 4.5-2.5 in Asia’s favour.

South Korean duo Kim Hyung-sung and Kim Kyung-tae appeared on the verge of restoring Asia’s three-point cushion in the final match but they too let slip a two-up lead with two to play against Spain’s Alvaro Quiros and Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts.

Quiros hit a brilliant approach from the trees to within four feet that set up a birdie on the last to grab the unlikely half and stay within two points of Asia.

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