A stirring fightback by the Rest of the World set up an intriguing final day of the second UBS Warburg Cup at Sea Island, Georgia, when the defending champions the United States take a 6 ½ - 5 ½ lead into the series of 12 singles.
Trailing 2 ½ - 3 ½ after the first day foursomes, Gary Player’s side lost the first three fourball matches as a deluge soaked the Seaside Course. However the Rest of the World, led by a magnificent victory by Nick Faldo and Eduardo Romero over Curtis Strange and Hale Irwin capped a comeback which saw the fourballs shared 3-3.
Faldo made a birdie two at the 17th of a match which swung both ways during the day and his approach to the 18th, played in the worsening conditions, ensured a one hole win after Barry Lane and Denis Durnian had taken care of Tom Kite and Scott Hoch 4 and 3 and the Australian pair of Rodger Davis and Stewart Ginn beat Mark O’Meara and Paul Azinger 4 and 2.
In the top fourball match, five-time Open Champion Tom Watson caught fire when, in tandem with USA captain Arnold Palmer he picked up a valuable point against Rest of the World skipper Player and Bernhard Langer, fresh from his induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame in Florida the previous night.
Palmer and Watson birdied seven of the final 11 holes, with Watson finishing with three straight birdies to secure the first point of the day. Then Tom Lehman and Raymond Floyd chipped in with another point against Sam Torrance and Ian Woosnam before Fred Funk’s superb birdie at the 17th earned he and Bob Gilder a point against the Japanese pair of Isao Aoki and Seiji Ebihara.
However just when it seemed that the US would race clear ahead of the singles – their traditional strong suit – the Rest of the World launched their determined fightback.
Player paid tribute to Watson saying: “Tom was just a birdie machine out there” while Palmer quipped: “I just went along for the walk. Tom did all the damge.”
Langer added: “We started well but played average towards the end. When the weather got worse they just got better and Tom played awesome at the end of the match.”
Fourball results (US names first)
Arnold Palmer & Tom Watson beat Gary Player & Bernhard Langer 3 and 2
Raymond Floyd & Tom Lehman beat Sam Torrance & Ian Woosnam 2 and 1
Fred Funk & Bob Gilder beat Isao Aoki & Seiji Ebihara 1 hole
Curtis Strange & Hale Irwin lost to Nick Faldo & Eduardo Romero 1 hole
Tom Kite and Scott Hoch lost to Barry Lane & Denis Durnian 4 and 3
Mark O’Meara & Paul Azinger lost to Rodger Davis & Stewart Ginn 4 and 2
United States 3, Rest of the World 3
Match position: United States 6 ½ , Rest of the World 5 ½
Palmer v Player
Strange v Torrance
Azinger v Langer
Lehman v Romero
Hoch v Lane
O’Meara v Faldo
Kite v Woosnam
Irwin v Davis
Funk v Aoki
Gilder v Ginn
Floyd v Ebihara
Watson v Durnian