Date: March 09, 2018
Author: Mark Hayes

Aussies power Asia-Pacific charge

The Australian players were front and centre as Asia-Pacific made a powerful start to the Bonallack and Patsy Hankins Trophies in Qatar overnight.

ALl three Aussies – Min Woo Lee, Shae Wools-Cobb and Grace Kim – remained perfect through day one in the biennial team event against Europe at the Doha Golf Club.

Kim, of Sydney, sat out the morning fourball matches of the Patsy Hankins Trophy for women, but played a key role in the afternoon foursomes alongside China's Maggie Liu as the women took a 7.5-2.5 lead through day one.

After dominating the fourballs 4-1, the Asia-Pacific team hadn't dropped a match in the afternoon, but with three matches halved, the heat was building on the final pair.

But Kim and Liu, who'd earlier been part of her team's only losing fourballs team, were exemplary under pressure and prevailed 1-up against Italian Bianca Fabrizio and Spain's Bianca Fernandez to extend the overall lead to five as the women's team seeks to defend the crown it won in Portugal two years ago.

The men, chasing their first Bonallack Trophy since 2004, also ended a match clear, 5.5-4.5 after a gripping first day.

And no team was more important to Asia-Pacific's hopes than Aussie duo and good mates Min Woo Lee and Shae Wools-Cobb.

The Perth-Sunshine Coast combination trailed all morning in their fourball clash with English duo Matthew Jordan and Todd Clements, but when Wools-Cobb canned a 4m putt on the 17th hole, they were suddenly level.

Both then nailed birdies up the last hole to put their nose in front 1-up at the only time that really matters.

Equally as importantly, in the first match out, rising Japanese star Takumi Kanaya and New Zealander Daniel Hillier were 4-down with six to play and stormed home to halve their match as the hosts took a two-point morning lead.

And in the afternoon's foursomes, the same two pairs were again fantastic.

Kanaya and Hillier continued their momentum to smack Sweden's Oliver Gillberg and Spain's Angel Hidalgo Portillo 4&2, while the Aussie duo was clinical in their 2&1 win over the same English pairing as earlier.

They were the only two matches Asia-Pacific won in the afternoon, but they ensured a one-point cushion heading into the same formats again later tonight.

The third day will feature 12 singles matches for both trophies.

Asia-Pacific men's captain Matt Cutler said it was "brilliant to see the harmony" between his charges and noted the women's team looked equally as comfortable in each other's company.

"It has been great to see all the different nationalities getting on well – it really shows all the players and countries have bought into this magnificent contest and the Asia-Pacific concept," Cutler said.