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Palmer sparks a Warburg rally

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 17, 2002

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- Arnold Palmer figured he was just going along for the ride in a best-ball match Saturday with Tom Watson. He wound up sparking their comeback with a 40-foot birdie putt.

"When he made that putt on the long par 3, I said, 'You know what? We're in the game now,' " Watson said.

Watson followed Palmer's heroics with three birdie putts as they rallied for a 3-and-2 victory over Gary Player and Bernhard Langer in the Warburg Cup.

The matches feature 12-man teams from the United States and the "Rest of the World." Six players on each team are 40-49, and the other six are 50 and older.

The United States and the world team split the best-ball matches on a rainy day at Sea Island Golf Club, allowing the Americans to take a 61/2-51/2 lead into today's 12 singles matches.

"I was just along for the walk," said Palmer, the 73-year-old playing captain for the U.S. team. "Tom did the damage on the back side. I contributed, and that's all I wanted to do."

Down three at the turn, Palmer and Watson won six straight to close out the match on the 16th.

Watson carried the load, especially when it started pouring. The five-time British Open champion plays well in bad weather, and he birdied four of six holes in the rain.

"It was like watching a young Tom Watson," Player said. "He was dynamite."

Palmer and Player won't get any help today. For the second straight year, the captains play each other in the opening match. Other singles matches include Curtis Strange against Sam Torrance in a showdown of Ryder Cup captains, and Mark O'Meara against Nick Faldo.

HYUNDAI TEAM MATCHES: Mark Calcavecchia had five birdies and partner Fred Couples added three to defeat Peter Jacobsen and Scott McCarron 5 and 4 in the opening round at Dana Point, Calif.

Peter Lonard had seven birdies as he and Rich Beem beat Jerry Kelly and Chris Smith 3 and 2. Lonard and Beem face Calcavecchia and Couples in today's final at the St. Regis Monarch Beach and Spa.

The two-day event features players from the PGA, Senior PGA and LPGA tours.

"This is the exact type of golf we play in the Ryder Cup," Calcavecchia said. "You try to get a couple of holes ahead, but if you are not careful you can lose it very quickly."

Just one of Couples' three birdies won a hole.

"Mark was just spectacular," Couples said. "I wasn't playing well but it didn't bother Mark at all. ...

"In the Ryder Cup you want to hit a good shot every time. Here, if I miss it we just laugh about it. We're just having fun."

Seniors Jim Thorpe and John Jacobs teamed to beat Doug Tewell and Bruce Lietzke 2 and 1. Thorpe and Jacobs play Allen Doyle and Dana Quigley in today's seniors final. Doyle and Quigley defeated Bruce Fleisher and David Graham 3 and 1.

Dottie Pepper and Julie Inkster beat Laura Diaz and Heather Bowie 2 and 1. They face Lorie Kane and Janice Moodie in the women's final. Kane and Moodie had eight birdies to beat Grace Park and Tampa's Beth Bauer 4 and 3.

TCL CLASSIC: Second-round leader Thongchai Jaidee shot 4-under 68 for a two-stroke lead over Colin Montgomerie (67) after three rounds in Dongguan, China. Thongchai had two birdies on the front nine and three on the back to reach 13-under 203.

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