Europe seize control of Royal Trophy on opening day

Fri Dec 14, 2012 5:15am EST
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(Reuters) - Holders Europe raced into an early lead on the opening day of the Royal Trophy on Friday with Jose Maria Olazabal's side winning three of Friday's four foursome matches against Asia.

It could have been a 4-0 whitewash but playing captain Olazabal hooked his tee shot on the 18th out of bounds and he and Spanish partner Miguel Angel Jimenez conceded the hole to finish all square with South Korean duo Kim Kyung-tae and Yang Yong-eun.

While Olazabal was disappointed by his final hole drive, he was happy with the efforts of his seven team mates in the alternate shot format as they took a commanding 3 1/2-1/2 lead in the annual contest loosely based on the Ryder Cup model.

"It was a good result. Three points and a half that is obviously a good solid start just a little disappointed on the way I played 18th hole but apart from that you have to look at the whole picture," Olazabal said in a televised interview.

Olazabal will be confident his side can retain the title needing only four-and-a-half more points from Saturday's four fourball matches and Sunday's eight singles.

Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Swede Henrik Stenson got Europe off to a fast start at the Empire Country Club in Brunei as the duo recorded a 5&4 win over Japan's Ryo Ishikawa and South Korean Bae Sang-moon.

The European pairing making a mockery of the supposed tough format by making eight birdies in 14 holes.

It quickly became 2-0 as Italian brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari recorded a 2&1 win over China's Wu Ashun and Japanese Yoshinori Fujimoto after firing six birdies in seven holes from the ninth.

Their run of birdies came either side of a two hour break in play for Friday prayers.   Continued...