Rookies Carl Mason and Bill Longmuir, first and second respectively on the European Seniors Tour Order of Merit, capped a thrilling fightback by beating two Major Champions in Mark O’Meara and Craig Stadler as the Rest of the World maintained their one point lead over the United States in the UBS Cup at Sea Island, Georgia.
Three down with six to play, the Anglo-Scottish combination dovetailed superbly over the closing stretch to seal a one hole victory as the Rest of the World team shared the fourballs 3-3 with the United States to hold a 6 ½ - 5 ½ lead going into the 12 Sunday singles.
Mason and Longmuir had gone down unluckily on the final green in the foursomes on Friday, but this time they would not be denied after Longmuir got the comeback into gear by reaching the long 15th in two for a solid birdie.
The Scotsman, who battled with Mason to be Number One on the Seniors Tour all summer, then rammed in a 50 footer for a birdie two to square the match on the 17th. At the last, Mason drilled a wonderful two iron to 25 feet and his curling putt fell in with the last ounce of pace.
Mason said: “When we were three down we were trying not to get hammered. We couldn’t make a putt all day then finished with two beauties. Yesterday we felt robbed of half a point but this helps our confidence going into the singles. We are both new to this and we know we can play. It’s just a case of settling down and getting into a rhythm.”
Longmuir added: “We didn’t play well early on but we hung in there and it all came good in the end.”
At the front end of the field, Rest of the World captain, Tony Jacklin, and six-time Major Champion, Nick Faldo, went down 4 and 3 to USA captain, Arnold Palmer, and an inspired Curtis Strange.
It didn’t look good for Jacklin’s side either when Hal Sutton and Hale Irwin were runaway winners over Des Smyth and Rodger Davis. However Mason and Longmuir’s point seemed to turn things around.
Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie took the points total as partners to 7 ½ out of nine with a 2 and 1 win over Raymond Floys and Bruce Lietzke while the Argentine pairing of Eduardo Romero and Vicente Fernandez claimed a second victory by 5 and 3 over Rocco Mediate and Tom Watson.
Romero, soon to join the ranks of senior golfers in 2004, said: “We were fantastic today – six birdies in the first eight holes. We have played together in a few World Cups and we not only speak the same language, we know each other’s games really well. "Two points out of two is really nice. Now we want to win the trophy for the first time and I think we have a good chance.”
The Rest of the World had an opportunity to extend their lead but were thwarted on the final green as Ian Woosnam of Wales and England’s Barry Lane went down to Brad Faxon and Scott Hoch.
Woosnam struck form with three successive birdies from the 13th while Faxon’s birdie at the 16th squared the tie. At the last, all four players were in trouble off the tee but Faxon was the only player to get up and down for a par four to snatch a victory.
“What can I say. That was really tough” said Woosnam. “I missed only two fairways and was dead both times, including the 18th. Really disappointing.”
Jacklin was effusive in his praise of Mason and Longmuir. He said: "They were three down at one time but they played beautifully, two long putts on the last two greens to get out with a win, and that one was pretty sensational from our end.
"But then Brad Faxon made a heck of a four from behind the scoreboard on 18. I mean, that was a pretty spectacular way to make four.
"At the end of the day, all of these situations - I promise you faithfully at the end of all the proceedings here this week, every single putt that has been made and been missed becomes important. You win some and you lose some. Looking at that scoreboard as it was earlier in the afternoon, I was more than pleased to come out with a tie today in the fourballs."