CHONBURI, Thailand (AP) — The Japanese pair of Ryo Ishikawa and Koukei Oda rallied to beat Europe’s playing captain Colin Montgomerie and Pablo Martin, helping Asia to a 2 1/2 to 1 1/2 lead after Friday’s foursomes play at the Royal Trophy.
Ishikawa, the 18-year-old teen sensation, and Oda were two down after three holes before storming back to win the foursomes 3 and 2.
Thai pair Prayad Marksaeng and Thongchai Jaidee maintained their lead all day to beat Henrik Stenson of Sweden and Simon Dyson of England 3 and 1. Europe’s win was by Swedes Robert Karlsson and Alexander Noren, 4 and 2 over Charlie Wie of South Korea and Liang Wenchong of China.
The remaining foursome was squared, between Gaganjeet Bhullar and Jeev Milkha Singh of India and Peter Hanson of Sweden and Soren Kjeldsen of Denmark.
“All credits to the players for coming back, especially Peter Hanson and Soren Kjeldsen to get that half point which was vital,” Montgomerie said. “A good putt of Jeev Milkha Singh to be honest, or else it would be all square throughout the day.”
Martin and Montgomerie got off to a good start but the match turned following a great tee shot by Oda on the eighth and a chip in for birdie by Ishikawa on the ninth.
“I was not trying for the hole, just to get it close,” Ishikawa said. “Koumei and I talked about it later and we both agreed those two holes gave us the momentum to go on and win.”
Asia won last year’s competition after losing to Europe in 2006 and 2007.
The competition continues Saturday with a four-ball matches. Bhullar and Singh will open against Montgomerie and Dyson, while Wie and Liang will take on Hanson and Kjeldsen.
Two winning pairs from Friday – Ishikawa and Oda against Karlsson and Noren – will set the stage for the crowd favorites Prayad and Thongchai against Stenson and Martin.