KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke secured an encouraging first triumph as skipper on Sunday as his side romped to a blowout 18 1/2 – 5 1/2 victory over hosts Asia in the EurAsia Cup.
Englishman Danny Willett secured the trophy after beating South Korea’s An Byeong-hun 3&1 in the singles, giving Europe an unassailable 13-3 lead even though there were eight matches still to finish at the Glenmarie Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur.
Clarke’s men continued the push for points as they racked up a huge winning margin with an outclassed Asia recording only 2 1/2 points out of a possible 12 on Sunday.
“The team have played fantastic this week,” said Clarke, who will lead Europe’s bid for a fourth consecutive Ryder Cup triumph over the United States starting in September at Hazeltine.
“There have been a lot of positives this week. I’ve learnt a few things, and hopefully I’ll do a better job come September.
“But if the players don’t play and don’t perform, you can be the best captain in the world and you’re not going to win.”
Europe began the day with a 9-3 lead after taking 4 1/2 points in both Friday’s fourball and Saturday’s foursome sessions, and the 12-man team showed no mercy in the singles as they continued to pummel Jeev Milkha Singh’s struggling side.
Captain’s pick Ian Poulter, who has played in four winning Ryder Cup sides, kicked off Sunday’s march to the title by beating Malaysia’s Danny Chia 4&3.
Andy Sullivan swiftly added another point after overcoming Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee by the same margin before Lee Westwood, a long-time friend of Clarke’s and another captain’s pick, then made it 12-3 after crushing Nicholas Fung 7&6.
That paved the way for Willett, the European team’s top ranked player, to secure the trophy on the 17th.
India’s Anirban Lahiri beat Ireland’s Shane Lowry 2&1, Kim Kyung-tae took out Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger 3&2 and another South Korean Wang Jeung-hun halved with Ross Fisher but it was otherwise all blue on the leaderboard.
England’s Chris Wood, Frenchman Victor Dubuisson, Kristoffer Broberg of Sweden, Dane Soren Kjeldsen and England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick all securing points for Europe, who won the biennial tournament for the first time after the inaugural edition ended in a draw two years ago.
Westwood said the winning experience would stand a number of players in good stead ahead of the Ryder Cup.
“There’s young lads on this team and ones that are going to be playing in the Ryder Cup obviously later on in the year,” the Englishman said.
“This is going to be a great experience for them, just feeding them into team golf gradually. And I’m sure they will benefit from this week. Nothing but positives to come out.”
(Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by Peter Rutherford/Amlan Chakraborty)