IFS AND PUTTS
Asia manage small rally on a day determined by putts
REPORTING FROM KUALA LUMPUR
The crowd had already dispersed, the course deserted and his teammates retired to their rooms.
But Nicholas Fung was still clutching his putter.
Day Two of the EurAsia Cup was determined by putts - big ones made and short ones missed - and while Thongchai Jaidee's Team Asia managed a minor recovery after a 5-0 whitewash in Thursday's fourballs, a 3-2 result in yesterday's foursomes sees Team Europe still firmly in the driver's seat.
Malaysian Fung, 23, was in the thick of yesterday's action that looked like it was going to be a massive win for Asia, who at one point led in four matches and were all square in the other.
"I missed three short putts (on the ninth, 13th and 15th) and I'm very upset about that. Gaganjeet (Bhullar) was playing well and because of my putts, we lost the match," said Fung after they fell 2&1 to Graeme McDowell and Jamie Donaldson, despite being three-up after the seventh.
It was the Europeans' only win on a day that saw Asia's rejigged pairings bear fruit; they won two matches and finished all-square in the other two.
As Fung put in some extra time on the putting greens, Anirban Lahiri was buzzing.
Partnering Siddukur Rahman, the Indian sank a clutch-putt from seven feet on the 18th to secure a one-up victory over Joost Luiten and Victor Dubuisson.
"The change in partnerships helped... and I have to thank Anirban, who won the match with that last putt," said Rahman, whose emphatic high-five with Anirban was clear indication of that putt's importance.
Partnered with Kim Hyung Sung, Prayad Marksaeng was in searing form on the greens, his clinical putting a key factor in their 4&3 win over Thomas Bjorn and Thorbjorn Olesen.
There are 10 points left to play for in today's singles, with Fung pitted against Europe captain Miguel Angel Jimenez, who has been the man of the tournament so far, in the opening match in a tactical move by Thongchai to avoid the in-form Spaniard.
The Thai faces McDowell in what will be a crucial second match, if Asia are to stay in the running.
Europe need 3½ points to secure the inaugural EurAsia Cup, while Jaidee's men need a massive 7½ to win.
Whatever the conclusion, the continental contest has already ignited a spark in one of Singapore's top golfers, Lam Chih Bing.
The 37-year-old tailed his fellow Asians on the Glenmarie course yesterday and was swept up with the occasion.
"Being out here, I can feel so much pride in being part of something greater, part of a team playing for your continent - other than the Presidents Cup, this is the pinnacle," he told The New Paper.
"I didn't play well last year and wasn't even close to making the team. But being here has motivated me - when it comes around again in two years, I want to be part of it."
Decked in the red of Team Asia, Lam ran from green to green to back his mates as the drama unfolded on the course yesterday, with his eyes sparkling every time a putt was sunk.
"In this format, momentum is everything. If we can get three points, it would be a good effort, but it still won't be easy (in the singles)," said Lam before yesterday's matches ended.
"We need momentum and need to get a few reds on the board early (today)."
To that end, Fung went out onto the putting green to fine-tune his craft, but was soon back indoors when the skies opened up. But the Malaysian is ready to face a Jimenez in scintillating form.
"Just because I missed putts today doesn't mean I'll miss tomorrow," said Fung.
"I'm hitting well and I am confident."
DAY TWO: FOURSOMES
EUROPE 7 ASIA 3 (Europe first)
l Match 1: Miguel Angel Jimenez/Pablo Larrazabal v Thongchai Jaidee/Kiradech Aphibarnrat - all square
l Match 2: Thomas Bjorn/Thorbjorn Olesen lost to Prayad Marksaeng/Kim Hyung Sung 4&3
l Match 3: Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano/Stephen Gallacher v Koumei Oda/Hideto Tanihara - all square
l Match 4: Joost Luiten/Victor Dubuisson lost to Anirban Lahiri/Siddikur Rahman one-down
l Match 5: Graeme McDowell/Jamie Donaldson bt Gaganjeet Bhullar/Nicholas Fung 2&1
l Match 1: Miguel Angel Jimenez v Nicholas Fung
l Match 2: Graeme McDowell v Thongchai Jaidee
l Match 3: Thomas Bjorn v Kiradech Aphibarnrat
l Match 4: Jamie Donaldson v Prayad Marksaeng
l Match 5: Pablo Larrazabal v Kim Hyung Sung
l Match 6: Victor Dubuisson v Anirban Lahiri
l Match 7: Thorbjorn Olesen v Gaganjeet Bhullar
l Match 8: Joost Luiten v Koumei Oda
l Match 9: Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano v Hideto Tanihara
l Match 10: Stephen Gallacher v Siddikur Rahman