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Saturday, 17 November 2001
The pendulous nature of match play golf was perfectly illustrated at Kiawah Island when the United States battled their way back into contention against the Rest of the World in the inaugural UBS Warburg Cup.

Having been outplayed in Friday's foursomes session on The Ocean Course to go 4 1/2 - 1 1/2 behind , Arnold Palmer's charges regrouped for the six fourball matches and took the session 3 1/2 - 2 1/2 to close the gap to 7-5 overall.

With a dozen singles left to play, the Rest of the World need only five and a half points for victory, the Americans requiring seven and a half.

Yet it could have been much worse for the Rest of the World side for, moving into the final hours play on the famous South Carolina course, they trailed in five of the six ties. But a brave rearguard action saw them force five ties down the 18th from which they bagged 2 1/2 points.

"I think that was a big bonus for us," said Rest of the World captain Gary Player. "Towards the end, when I looked up at the board all I could see was red which was not very good.

"But our guys put in a spurt at the end and I'm very proud of what they did. There is still a long way to go but what is great for the sponsors and everyone connected with this match is that it is turning into a very competitive contest and the final day should be really exciting."

Palmer said: "The last two holes here are formidable and you have to hit good shots into both of them. Obviously it would have made a big difference if we could have held onto those matches but, what can I say, better today than tomorrow."

The top tie between Bernhard Langer and Frank Nobilo and Ray Floyd and Mark Calcavecchia was halved, a disappointment for the Rest of the World duo who were two up with five to play, but who did not reckon on the resilience of veteran Floyd.

The 59 year old eight time Ryder Cup player birdied three holes in a row to help the United States level matters before a Calcavecchia birdie at the 16th put the host nation in front. However Nobilo levelled matters again with a 12 foot birdie putt at the 17th before the 18th was halved.

"It was great to be part of a match like that," said Langer. "Each one of the four played their part at some time, all of us holed big putts and made some big shots, that's what match play is all about."

The second tie followed suit, European Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance and his vice captain Ian Woosnam finishing level with Mark O'Meara and John Cook after a titanic struggle which saw the visitors win the first two holes, lose the lead by the seventh, before eventually squaring matters for the final time on the 17th.

Torrance played tribute to his team-mate whose solidity on the greens held their challenge together. "Woosie played beautifully today," he said. "He holed a couple of crunch putts in the middle of the round to keep us going and was generally pretty solid.

"But it was great competitive stuff all round, played in the right spirit. All four of us are out there trying to win but at the same time we're having a laugh and a joke, that's how it should be."

The third tie, incredibly, also ended all square which proved a huge boost to the visiting duo of Nick Faldo and Isao Aoki who looked odds on to lose when they fell two down with two to play against Curtis Strange and Tom Watson.

But a Faldo par three at the treacherous 17th was good enough to win the hole as the American duo found sand trouble and when Strange and Watson again got into bother at the 18th, a par four from Aoki was enough for a valuable half point.

Moments later the first point outright was claimed by the American duo of Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts who were always in charge against the European Seniors Tour duo of Denis Durnian and Ian Stanley.

Although Durnian in particular battled well in the middle stages of the match with four birdies, the American duo eventually proved too strong. Hoch started the day with a birdie three at the first and ended it the same way, birdieing the 16th from ten feet to close out the match 4 and 2.

Back came the Rest of the World however to claim their first outright point, Des Smyth and captain Gary Player beating Player's American counterpart Arnold Palmer and Dana Quigley by two holes.

Ahead most of the way Smyth, who became the oldest player to win an event on the European Tour in March when he claimed the Madeira Island Open, made sure when he found the green into the wind at the 18th with his approach shot and rolled in the 15 footer for a closing birdie.

The effort earned the praise of his captain. "That three iron that Des hit into the last was something special but it summed up for me what a great match we had," said Player.

In the final match, both Stewart Ginn and Jose Maria Canizares had putts on the 18th green to pull another half point from the fire but their efforts slipped past before Larry Nelson put the issue beyond doubt, giving himself and partner Hale Irwin a two hole win with a perfectly struck ten foot birdie putt.

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