- Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn is facing his biggest year to date in his golf career
- The 46-year-old is Europe’s Ryder Cup captain and he has started the year well
- His Europe team produced a stunning performance to lift the EurAsia Cup
- Englishmen Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton will have impressed Bjorn
The biggest year of Thomas Bjorn’s life got off to the perfect start yesterday as his Europe team put in a strong performance in the singles to lift the EurAsia Cup in Malaysia.
In football terms, this was a bit like holding aloft the Community Shield in a year when you hope to get your hands on the Champions League trophy, but there were certainly markers laid in Ryder Cup terms and Bjorn, Europe’s captain, will be buoyed in particular by the performances of Englishmen Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton.
The talented pair marked their first experience in team golf as pros by being the only players to win all three of their matches against a plucky Asian team, who led following the first two days of fourballs and foursomes.
Thomas Bjorn’s biggest year in golf started strong as Europe won the EurAsia singles trophy
Englishman Tommy Fleetwood was a stand-out for Bjorn’s Europe team at the Malaysia event
Predictably, however, it was the stronger Europe team who prevailed in the 12 singles, as they took care of any chance of an upset by winning seven of the first eight matches. Trailing by one point at the start of play, Europe ran out comfortable 14-10 winners.
‘I could sense in the team room there was a will to turn this around and I think today we saw the character and determination these 12 guys have,’ said Bjorn.
Hatton, who beat India’s Anirban Lahiri, added: ‘It’s been a great experience. We knew we needed a big day and it was great to go out there and complete the mission.’
As for Europe’s No 1 player last year, Fleetwood was sent out early and helped set the tone for the day with a 2&1 success over Asian favourite SSP Chawrasia. After teaming up to win with Paul Casey in the fourballs and Henrik Stenson in the foursomes, this represented the ideal preparation before defending his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship title this week.
Tyrrell Hatton’s impressive performance in Malaysia will have encouraged captain Bjorn
Chris Paisley surprised himself by ‘playing out of his skin’ to claim his first European Tour title
Meanwhile, at the BMW South African Open, England’s Chris Paisley surprised himself by ‘playing out of his skin’ to claim his first European Tour title.
Paisley carded a flawless closing 66 at Glendower Country Club in Johannesburg to finish 21 under par, three shots ahead of home favourite Branden Grace.
The 31-year-old from Hexham, who had wife Keri standing in for his regular caddie, said: ‘I still just can’t believe it.
Going head to head against Branden in his home country with pretty much everyone on his side was tough, but I just played great, out of my skin. I didn’t even think I was capable of it.’
Paisley will climb from 289th in the world to a career-high ranking just outside the top 120.
Of his wife (pictured left kissing him), he said: ‘I just can’t say enough about how good a job she did this week — and life in general. It’s the first time she’s ever caddied and she never put a foot wrong.’