CHINA’s golf prodigy Li Haotong left EurAsia Cup captain Arjun Atwal in awe of his dazzling performance at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club today.
The 22-year-old played a pivotal role to help Team Asia win the fourballs 3 ½-2 ½.
Haotong, partnering Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung, gave Asia the much needed halve against Bernd Wiesberger-Rafael Cabrera Bello when he birdied the 18th, a shot Arjun could not take his mind off.
“That was fantastic. Riding up the 18th fairway, I was telling myself this is going to end up in a mess.
“But (Haotong) making that birdie out of that rough, to where the pin was, that was just one of the most clutch things I’ve seen in my life,” said Arjun.
Arjun, an eight-time winner on the Asian Tour, also said Thailand’s Poom Saksansin and South Korean Kang Sunghoon in match four against Team Europe helped give Team Asia a much-needed early boost.
Kang, 30, saved a lot of birdie putts to help the duo match vastly experienced four-time Ryder Cup star Henrik Stenson and Alex Levy at 5&4.
Team Asia did well to prove they are no pushovers when Green paired with Japanese Yuta Ikeda to superbly bring down Belgium’s Thomas Pieters and Englishmen Matt Fitzpatrick 2&1.
Ikeda, 32, saved a lot of bogey putts to eventually birdie the 15th and 17th after a shaky start for hte win.
“It was a solid overall performance for us. Making the shot was one of the best feelings I’ve had in a while when I hit it on my line on the 17th,” said Gavin, the first Malaysian to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
The third match saw Arjun strategically pair Hideto Tanihara with a much younger Phachara Khongwatmai. It paid off when they won 2 up from Alex Noren-Paul Dunne.
Team Europe captain Thomas Bjorn enjoyed his bright moment when three-time Ryder Cup star, Paul Casey, and Europe’s No 1 Tommy Fleetwood scored a 4&3 win against South Korean An Byeonghun and Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
Bjorn’s team managed to get another point from match No 6 through Ross Fisher and Tyrrell Hatton who earned a 5&4 win from Anirban Lahiri and S.P Chawrasia.
Going into the day two foursomes format tomorrow, Arjun does not want to break up his team who are “gelling”.
He opted to maintain all of Team Asia’s pairings whereas Bjorn aims to reshuffle all of his pairings, going into tomorrow’s battle as Team Europe try to retain their title.