Obviously, Ian is Ian Poulter – a Ryder Cup legend and someone who is considered one of the foremost
exponents of the match play format in contemporary golf. The Englishman has shown he still gets fired up in a team uniform, leading the Blues to another emphatic session Saturday.
Poulter’s early win alongside Danny Willett against Asia’s strongest pairing – Thongchai Jaidee and Byeong-hun An – set the tone as the
Darren Clarke-led Europe took a 4.5-1.5 win in the foursomes. That gave them a massive six-point lead after a similar margin in Friday’s fourballs at 9-3, and they need just 3.5 points in the singles to win the trophy today.
Chia, who combined with his compatriot Nicholas Fung and was unbeaten for a second straight day, was one of the few bright spots for Asia as the pairing split a point against Victor Dubuisson and Soren Kjeldsen.
Asian captain Jeev Milkha Singh then put Chia – winner of the last two professional events at the Glenmarie course – first out, while Clarke entrusted Poulter with the same responsibility.
When asked what he thought of playing against Poulter, Chia smiled and said: “Ian who?” Chia did not mean the remark to sound offensive, and went on to add: “It’s match play so it doesn’t matter. I don’t care who it is. If he hits a bad shot, it’s still a bad shot.
“So, it doesn’t matter if it’s Ian Poulter. I just have to hit it decent, and we will have a fighting chance. It doesn’t matter who I play against.
“I think I will look at the positive side of my team with Nicholas these two days. I did not hit it great, and they still could not beat me.
“Tomorrow, I will be leading the Asian team out for the first group, and I just have to hit it half-decent and I think I’ve got a good chance. Maybe it’s a big statement to make, but that’s how I feel.”
Asia started the foursomes in superb fashion, taking the lead in four matches early before Europe turned the tables on them. The lone win for the home team came via Kiradech Aphibarnrat and SSP Chawrasia, who dovetailed brilliantly to beat Chris Wood and Kristoffer Broberg by two holes on the 18th.
Despite facing a massive deficit, Singh believes his team can pull off what looks like an impossible win at the Glenmarie Golf & Country Club.
Singh and his men will no doubt take a lot of heart from their magnificent fightback in the inaugural EurAsia Cup, where they won seven points in the 10 singles matches (each team had 10 players in 2014) to end up as joint winners.
And the two-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner said: “Looking back two years ago, we were in a similar situation and the boys pulled through. I still believe with the pairings that have come out, my boys are going to do well tomorrow.
“I just told them that when your back is against the wall, you cannot be pushed back any more. You can either get crushed, or you push back. The only way left for us is up. There’s no other option.”
Despite the lead, European captain Clarke remained cautious, saying: “Obviously, I go back to Brookline in 1999 when we had a big lead and lost. We have a commanding lead right now, but there’s still a lot of golf to play tomorrow against a very strong Asian team.”
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