The opening day of the Royal Trophy ended even as defending champion Europe drew 2-2 with Asia in Friday's foursomes.
Colin Montgomerie, returning as player-captain once again after guiding Europe to an 8 1/2 to 7 1/2 victory last year, ensured that his side went into the second day on level terms after the Scot and playing partner Rhys Davies beat Yuta Ikeda and Kim Kyung-tae 2 and 1 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.
Europe had taken the early lead as Swedish duo of Peter Hanson and Fredrik Andersson Hed eased to a convincing 7 and 5 win over Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee -- who was struggling with a back injury -- and Indian's Jeev Milkha Singh.
Asia battled back, though, as Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Noh Seung-yul of South Korea and China's Liang Wenchong edged Swedish pair Henrik Stenson and Johan Edfors 3 and 2 to tie the scores.
The hosts then moved ahead as Japan's Ryo Ishikawa and compatriot Shunsuke Sonoda defeated Italian teenager Matteo Manassero and Spain's Pablo Martin, 3 and 2. But Europe drew level after consecutive bogeys at the 11th and 12th by Ikeda and Kim handed their rivals an advantage that Asia failed to recover from.
Europe will return to the course for Saturday's fourballs with its partnerships unchanged while Asia has made two switches with Singh partnering Kim against Edfors and Stenson and Ikeda teaming up with Thongchai against Hanson and Andersson Hed.
The result delighted Montgomerie, who believes it provides the ideal platform for Europe to move into the lead by the close of play on Saturday.
"I knew these games would be close and it is all to play for but I'm very happy with this result," he said. "We have something to work on and we'll come out fighting.
“We want to be leading into the final day's singles,” he added. "We have been given a stiff test, but it was a very positive start for Europe."