EurAsia Cup: Danny Willett paired with Ian Poulter as Matt Fitzpatrick is given Lee Westwood as his new partner

Sheffield's Danny Willett will be paired with Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter, pictured, in Saturday's fourballs on day two of the EurAsia Cup (Picture: Getty Images).
Sheffield's Danny Willett will be paired with Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter, pictured, in Saturday's fourballs on day two of the EurAsia Cup (Picture: Getty Images).

SHEFFIELD duo Danny Willett and Matt Fitzpatrick have been split up by captain Darren Clarke after they were Europe's only losers on day one of the EurAsia Cup.

Europe lead 4½-1½ following the opening series of fourballs at Glenmarie Golf & Country Club, in Kuala Lumpur.

However, Willett and Fitzpatrick were defeated 3&1 by Byeonghun An - the Korean who just edged Fitzpatrick for the 2015 Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award - and veteran Thongchai Jaidee.

The Asian pairing led after Jaidee's birdie at the short fifth, bit the European pair's rejoinder was to birdie the next three holes, two of them by Willett, to move two holes ahead.

An birdied the 11th to half the deficit and then the Korean produced an astonishing run, birdieing four holes on the spin from the 14th, to clinch the 3&1 win.

Clarke's response to the loss has been to break up the Yorkshire pairing and team each of them with a Ryder Cup stalwart.

Willett will be given a chance to gain immediate revenge over An and Chaidee when he goes out in Saturday's opening foursomes with Ian Poulter, who helped get the first point on the board for Europe on Friday, accompanying Bernd Wiesberger to a 4&3 victory over Anirban Lahiri and Jeunghun Wang.

Westwood and Chris Wood set the seal on a superb start for Clarke’s team by beating Kiradech Aphibarnrat and SSP Chawrasia in the sixth and final fourball.

In between, there were convincing victories for Ross Fisher and Kristoffer Broberg (6&4 over Prayad Marksaeng and KT Kim), and Andy Sullivan and Shane Lowry (2&1 over Shingo Katayama and Wu Ashun).

Clarke's major concern of the day involved the knee injury suffered on the 15th hole by Victor Dubuisson, who played through the pain to help Søren Kjeldsen secure a half in their match with the Malaysian duo of Danny Chia and Nicholas Fung.

But the former Open champion Clarke - who will also captain Europe later this year in the Ryder Cup - believes the injury is not serious, and that the Frenchman will be fit to take his place in the Saturday foursomes.

“A three-point lead after day one, it's a wonderful start for Europe," said Clarke. "There was a lot of matches there that it could have swung either way on the back nine.

"Halfway around, Europe were leading in all the matches. I was on the radio to a few of the other guys and said, 'this is match play, Asia are going to come back at some stage on the back nine', and that's exactly what they did.

"We had a strong couple of matches and managed to finish with a very good result.”

Willett's new partner, Poulter, said: "We (he and Wiesberger) dovetailed nicely. We put two balls in play for the most part and we kept them under pressure.

"We holed a few key putts. Especially around the turn, 12, 13, were key holes for us, and obviously that was enough to get the job done.”

Westwood said that he and Wood had also "dovetailed well", adding: "We made quite a few birdies, but no bogeys. We didn’t give any holes away.

"Woody played well, especially around the back nine, and he made some lovely putts when he needed to.

"They (Aphibarnrat and Chawrasia) were always going to be a tough combination to beat as they are both good players and they hit a lot of fairways, so we knew we had to be on top of our game.”