Clean sweep on Saturday gives Asia commanding 6-2 Royal Trophy lead

ryo ishikawa, sunsuke sonoda
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The Japanese tandem of Ryo Ishikawa (left) and Sunsuke Sonoda helped keep Asia's momentum rolling in fourballs on Saturday.
By
PA Sport and Associated Press

Series:

Asia swept all four points in the fourballs on Saturday to build a 6-2 lead over Europe in the three-day Royal Trophy match-play tournament.

Asia, captained by Joe Ozaki of Japan, needs only 2 1/2 points from the eight singles matches on Sunday to win at the Black Mountain Golf Club.

2011 ROYAL TROPHY

The Royal Trophy is a five-year-old Ryder Cup-style event matching eight-man teams from Europe and Asia.

Locked at 2-2 aftre Friday’s first day of action, Asia dominated the fourballs with Europe putting poorly.

The Thai-Japanese team of Thongchai Jaidee and Yuta Ikeda beat Peter Hanson and Frederik Andersson Hed of Sweden in the day’s final game, leading by three strokes with one hole to play.

Ikeda, who won four Japan Tour titles in 2010, hit four birdies in the first nine holes and also had birdies on Nos. 10 and 11.

Ryo Ishikawa and Shunsuke Sonoda beat Italian teenager Matteo Manassero and Spain’s Pablo Martin, 3 and 2.

“We have good teamwork,” Sonoda said. “If I missed, he (Ishikawa) didn’t, and when he missed, I didn’t.”

Jeev Milkha Singh recovered from a back injury for a 1-up win with new partner Kim Kyung-tae of South Korea over the Swedish pair Henrik Stenson and Johan Edfors in the only match that went to the last hole.

On the 17th Edfors missed a short putt, squandering a chance to even the match.

Liang Wenchong of China and Noh Seung-yul of South Korea remained unbeaten by defeating Europe’s playing captain Colin Montgomerie and Rhys Davies of Wales, 5 and 4, in the day’s first match, setting the tone for Asia.

Teenage star Ishikawa extended the Asian advantage when he matched Martin's birdie at the 16th to secure a 3&2 victory for himself and playing partner Sonada over the Spaniard and Italian youngster Manassero.

The gloom deepened for Europe as Edfors and Stenson were edged out by Kim and Singh by one hole after all four players birdied the par-5 18th.

And Ikeda's birdie at the 17th secured a 3&1 triumph for the Japanese player and local favorite Jaidee over Hanson and Hed.

It leaves Europe with a mountain to climb in Sunday's eight singles matches to retain the trophy it won by a point in Bangkok last year. Europe has won four of the five editions of this event to date.