Tony Jacklin’s Rest of the World team drew inspiration from their captain and six-time Major Champion, Nick Faldo, to take a narrow 3 ½ - 2 ½ lead over the United States into the second day of the UBS Cup at Sea Island, Georgia. Jacklin and Faldo set the tone for the foursomes by beating rival captain, Arnold Palmer, and Rocco Mediate on the last green.
With the first point safely tucked away courtesy of two British golfing legends, the formidable pairing of Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie again dovetailed superbly to defeat the senior partnership of Raymond Floyd and Hale Irwin by 5 and 3 without dropping a shot.
Langer and Montgomerie, who have a Ryder Cup record of 5 ½ points out of seven, with 2 ½ of them coming from three starts at The De Vere Belfry last year, finished off the Americans with a birdie at the 15th and were four under par when the match ended.
Montgomerie, at 40 the youngest player in either side, said: “It’s quite obvious that we enjoying playing together. We complement each other very well and respect each other. Respect and confidence in your partner is vital.
“As a team I think we must be satisfied to be a point ahead. I think that, on paper, the Us team are stronger but match play is different as we’ve proved in many Ryder Cups.”
Palmer’s side, seeking a third successive victory in the event, hit back through the strong pairing of Scott Hoch and 2004 US Ryder Cup Captain, Hal Sutton. Two down with seven to play against Carl Mason and Bill Longmuir - respectively first and second on the European Seniors Tour Order of Merit – the home team finished with a flourish.
They won the 12th and 15th to square the match then Sutton coaxed in a 15 foot birdie attempt at the last after Mason’s effort had just missed. It was a disappointment for the two UBS Cup rookies. Mason said: “We didn’t deserve to lose. I had five putts which just didn’t drop. It’s not that we played badly, we just didn’t get the job done.”
Longmuir added: “It was great for Carl and I to make our debuts in this event but we are disappointed we couldn’t squeeze something out of the match. I thought his birdie putt at the last was certain to go in.”
Barry Lane and Ian Woosnam played the last 16 holes in four under par, but two bogeys to open against Mark O’Meara and Craig Stadler proved costly in the final analysis. The US pair birdied the 14th and 15th then Stadler sank a 12 footer at the 17th for a two and claimed a point for the home side.
Australia’s Roger Davis and Des Smyth of Ireland played some remarkable foursomes golf – five birdies in six holes from the tenth – but were unable to see off Brad Faxon and Bruce Leitzke. In the end, Faxon and Smyth both played exquisite chips from below the 18th green to ensure a halved game.
Jacklin singled out Smyth for particular praise for his pitch and declared: “I think that was the shot of the day. Des played just a wonderful shot from a difficult position.”
In the bottom match, Argentina’s Vicente Fernandez and Eduardo Romero played solidly to outlast Curtis Strange and Tom Watson 4 and 3.
Jacklin’s side led in five out of the six matches at one stage but he was still satisfied with the outcome of the foursomes – so much so that he retained the identical partnerships for the fourballs.
He said: “All my guys feel very comfortable and are content with their partners so I’ve decided to keep things the same. It was nip and tuck all day long and they came back strongly. It would have been fantastic if the games had stayed like they were early on but these guys are never going to let down and let you have your way.”
Mediate almost salvaged an improbable half when his bunker shot at the last came up one inch short of the hole. Jacklin added: “Rocco’s shot out of the bunker nearly gave me heart failure but I didn’t want to let my old Ryder Cup team-mate, Nick, down.”
Palmer commented: “We are not happy to be trailing but a point isn’t much at this stage. There is still a lot of golf to be played and it’s going to come down to Sunday, whichever way you cut it.”