The Rest of the World face an uphill task in their bid to win the UBS Cup for the first time after the United States took the second day fourball session 4-2 to establish a 6 ½ - 5 ½ lead going into the final day singles at Kiawah Island’s Cassique Course, South Carolina, USA.
With the top two matches halved, the lone victory from the Rest of the World team on a day of exceptional scoring which wielded 83 birdies and three eagles came from the reliable pairing of Colin Montgomerie and Bernhard Langer as they recorded their ninth matchplay victory in 11 matches together by overcoming Hale Irwin and Fred Funk 2 and 1 but overall the momentum was firmly with the Americans.
“It wasn’t looking good for us at 6 ½ - 4 ½ and we needed that extra point,” said Montgomerie. “If we lost that game it would have been very difficult but at least we are back in there with a chance tomorrow.”
The Rest of the World team have never won the Ryder Cup style event for over 40s, the United States winning the first two and then retaining the trophy last year when the match was tied. The Rest of the World team need to win seven of the 12 final day singles to win the Cup
The scores could possibly have been level but for an untimely mix-up between Gary Player and Mark McNulty in the top fourball match, when they mistakenly hit each other’s ball from the ninth fairway, an error which was not discovered until they reached the green. That cost them the hole against Arnold Palmer and Jay Haas when the match was finely balanced at all square. The Rest of the World got back on level terms two holes later but were unable to secure a much needed point and for a second successive day finished all square.
With results going their way in the other matches, the United States are in a commanding position to retain the UBS Cup as, for the second time in three years they take a one point lead into the singles.
“We were careless on the ninth and if you make a mistake then you have to pay for it,” said Rest of the World Captain, Player in reference to the mix-up on the ninth hole. “It did have a bearing on the match as we were all square at the time. But it was really enjoyable playing with Arnold, Mark and Jay and all in all 36 holes, all square, and that is a nice way to end up.”
Palmer added: “If I hadn’t had a wonderful partner it wouldn’t have been that way.
But everybody played good and it was nice. It was meant to be this way and I’m happy for it.”
The second match out on the course was as good an example of match play golf as you are likely to see with the US pair of Craig Stadler and Tom Kite trading two eagles and 16 birdies with Briton’s Barry Lane and Sam Torrance in a match that finished all square. Stadler had the chance to win the match but his eight foot putt on the last slipped by on the high side.
“We dodged a bullet on the last,” said Lane. “We were both ten under par better ball score and when you are all playing well it is a lot of fun. We’ll take a half.”
Hal Sutton, the 2004 US Ryder Cup Captain, notched up his fifth successive win in UBS Cup matches in partnering Tom Watson to a comfortable 4 and 2 win over the Australian duo of Rodger Davis and Peter Senior.
The 4 and 2 score was matched by Ray Floyd and Fred Couples, whose better ball score of 61, 11 under par, against Ian Woosnam and Sandy Lyle set a new record for the tournament.
Another point went the way of the Americans when Scott Hoch and Curtis Strange got the better of Carl Mason and John Chillas 2 and 1.