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Asia rebounds to cut into EurAsia Cup deficit

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (SportsNetwork.com) - Asia rebounded from a poor opening round Friday to claim three of a possible five points and cut into its deficit at the inaugural EurAsia Cup.

Europe had swept all four of Thursday's four-ball matches, but was able to win just one foursome match at Glenmarie Golf & Country Club on Friday. The European squad still holds a 7-2 lead entering Saturday's final round, which will consist of 10 singles matches.

The teams of Prayad Marksaeng and Hyung-sung Kim, and Anirban Lahiri and Siddikur Rahman were the winners for Asia on Friday. Thongchai Jaidee and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, and Koumei Oda and Hideto Tanihara each halved their matches to account for Asia's three points.

"(Jaidee) was working hard to get the teams right. You can see that it turned around," Aphibarnrat said.

Graeme McDowell, who is the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 14 in the world, and Jamie Donaldson were the only European duo to win their match on Friday.

Asia was finally able to break through for its first point of the competition when Marksaeng and Kim earned a 4 & 3 victory over the European team of Thomas Bjorn and Thorbjorn Olesen.

After Asia won the first hole and Europe won the third to keep the match all square, the Asians birdied the fourth to grab a lead they would not lose.

A par at the fifth was good enough to gain a 2-up advantage before birdies at the eighth and 12th pushed Marksaeng and Kim's lead to four.

The Europeans birdied the 13th to get back to 3-down, but then bogeyed the 14th to again fall behind by four and conceded a par to the Asians at the 15th to seal the match.

"We just kept going, helped each other and Kim was very steady today," said Marksaeng. "I think we were a great match today. Look forward to playing better tomorrow."

The next two matches to finish would both be halved to leave the Asians four points behind.

The first half a point came from the opening match of the day, which included European captain and Pablo Larrazabal against Asian skipper Jaidee and Aphibarnrat.

Neither team was able to gain a lead larger than one during that contest and the Europeans entered the final hole trailing before Jimenez stuck his approach about five feet from the hole and Larrazabal cleaned up the birdie to salvage the half point.

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Stephen Gallacher had a harder time earning their halve as they found themselves 3-down to Oda and Tanihara after seven holes.

The Europeans, however, rallied by winning three holes in a four-hole stretch from the 11th to square the match.

A par at the 15th gave Asia back a 1-up lead, but Gallacher converted about a 10-foot birdie putt at the 17th to again get to all square.

Gallacher then had a chance to win the match with a putt just beyond 10 feet at the 18th, but he could not convert to halve the match.

Asia and Europe split the final two matches of the day to remain four points apart.

Europe struck first with a late flourish.

Asia's team of Gaganjeet Bhullar and Nicholas Fung entered the ninth hole with a 2-up lead, but McDowell and Donaldson controlled the match from there.

The Europeans got back within one with a par at the ninth and after the teams split the next three holes, Asia tripped to bogeys at the 13th, 15th and 16th to hand Europe a 2-up advantage.

Donaldson sealed the 2 & 1 decision with a 6-foot birdie putt at the 17th.

Lahiri and Rahman, however, got that point back moments later when Lahiri closed out a 1-up victory over Joost Luiten and Victor Dubuisson with a 10- foot par putt at the 18th.

The two teams had traded leads over the front nine before Rahman rolled in a short par putt at the 13th and Dubuisson failed to convert a 3-foot par putt at the 16th to hand the Asians a 2-up lead.

Luiten poured in a long par putt at the 17th to get the Europeans back within one prior to Lahiri's putt at the last.

NOTES: The first team to reach 10 1/2 points will secure the cup ... Jaidee and Aphibarnrat were the only duo to not record a bogey on Friday ... Olesen is the only player on the European team to not have a recorded a win on the European Tour since the start of 2013.