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Europe in Command at Royal Trophy

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Europe took a commanding 6 1/2 -1 1/2 lead over Asia on Saturday after dominating the four best-ball matches in the Royal Trophy.

Despite a stronger performance by Joe Ozaki's Asian team, Europe won 3-1 in the fourball format to all but ensure it will retain the Royal Trophy it claimed at last year's inaugural tournament. Europe had a 3 1/2 - lead after Friday's alternate-shot play.

The Asian team needs to win seven of Sunday's eight singles matches to upset the Europeans.

'It was very exciting. Asia were much stronger, although Europe still got more points,' European captain Seve Ballesteros said. 'I am happy we lead, but it is not decided yet as there are still eight more points in the singles.'

Ryder Cup stars Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood were close to another victory on Saturday before Thongchai Jaidee and Prom Meesawat, with six birdies, rallied to halve their match.

Tetsuji Hiratsuka and Thaworn Wiratchant blew a three-stroke lead on the front nine to fall one down to Anthony Wall and Paul McGinley.

Robert Karlsson and Niclas Fasth came back from one down to halve their match with Asian No. 1 Jeev Milkha Singh and S.K. Ho.

Karlsson drove to a foot from the pin on the par-3 17th before knocking in the birdie to even the match.

'Obviously every Asian player played better than yesterday,' Ozaki said. 'We had two good matches that went into the 18th hole, but the European players were strong. We had the chance to draw but we could not make it.'

Johan Edfors and Henrik Stenson had the easiest win, establishing an early lead over Y.E. Yang and Toru Taniguchi in their 2 and 1 win.

'Johan and I had a good day again,' Stenson said. 'We should have won earlier but we felt tired in the last holes.'

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