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Friday, 16 November 2001
A wonder eagle two from Japan's Isao Aoki proved the highlight of a remarkable first day's play in the inaugural UBS Warburg Cup at Kiawah Island which saw the Rest of the World team move into a comprehensive 4 1/2 - 1 1/2 lead over the United States.

Aoki, partnering Nick Faldo, holed his nine iron second shot from 125 yards on the 414 yard 12th hole to move the duo one up and provide the catalyst for their hard-fought 2 and 1 victory over Hale Irwin and 1989 Open champion Mark Calcavecchia.

Still one up through the 15th, a ten foot birdie putt from Aoki at the long 16th on the famous Ocean Course put the Rest of the World duo two up with two to play and they closed out a 2 and 1 victory moments later with a half at the 17th.

"That was as good golf in a team match play contest as I've played in a long time," said Faldo. "I think we made six birdies in total and of course the eagle from Isao was the icing on the cake, but we knitted well together all day.

"When I saw the draw I thought playing Hale and Mark was the toughest pairing on the US team and to beat them was like getting two points."

The first point of the foursomes section of the three-day Ryder Cup-style contest for the over 40's was put on the board for the visitors by Bernhard Langer and Frank Nobilo who saw off the challenge of Scott Hoch and John Cook by 2 and 1.

Ironically, things did not start well for the Rest of the World duo when Cook, runner-up in the 1992 Open Championship at Muirfield, rolled in a 20 foot birdie putt on the opening hole. But when the American duo dropped shots at the fourth and sixth holes, Langer and Nobilo grabbed a lead they did not relinquish.

Still one up with two to play, the match was over at the short 17th when Hoch's tee shot flew well left of the green. It meant the Americans could do no better than bogey four and when Nobilo rolled in a ten footer for par, the first point was on the board.

"We played well for the first 12 holes and then I hit a couple of not so good shots which left Frank some difficult chips and putts," said Langer.

"With the wind the way it is, it is important that you get the ball in the right place as it makes a big difference whether you are ten or 30 feet away. But we got it together and closed out the match in the end which was the most important thing."

The Rest of the World bandwagon continued to roll with another two wins quickly posted, the first by captain Gary Player and partner Des Smyth who recovered from an uncertain start to beat American counterpart Arnold Palmer and 1998 Open champion Mark O'Meara 3 and 2.

Then Spain's Jose Maria Canizares and Stewart Ginn of Australia recovered magnificently from being two down with five to play to beat five time Open champion Tom Watson and Loren Roberts on the last green.

Leading 4-0, the Rest of the World side had a chance to make it five out of five but Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance missed a three footer on the 17th to tie his match in partnership with Ian Woosnam against Curtis Strange and Larry Nelson, and the match ended in a half.

Buoyed by getting something on the board at last, the home side finally won a match outright in the final tie of the day, Ray Floyd and Dana Quigley, who had come in to replace the injured Jack Nicklaus, beating the European Seniors Tour duo of Ian Stanley and Denis Durnian on the last green.

The contest resumes with six fourball matches on Saturday with the overall outcome decided on Sunday with a dozen singles. The first team to reach 12 1/2 points will be the winner.

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