Golf: US at home in Palmer territory

Click to follow
The Independent Online
EUROPE should have known better than to select a course designed by Arnold Palmer as the venue for the Johnnie Walker PGA Cup. The 24-carat Kildare Golf and Country Club bears an American hallmark and the United States team of club professionals are decidedly at home here.

They had a thumping 19-7 victory in the last match two years ago in South Carolina and yesterday they held the upper hand, establishing a 5 1/2 -2 1/2 lead after the first day's play. The Americans, who were last defeated in this competition eight years ago, have 15,000 club professionals to choose from, about five times as many as their opponents.

The European team had a hearty lunch after the opening foursomes in the morning. Outplayed in two of the matches, they rallied over the closing holes in the other two to level the score at 2-2. The experienced Scottish pairing of Russell Weir and John Chillas were defeated 6 and 4 by Brett Upper and Gene Fieger, and John Hoskison and Craig Maltman went down 3 and 2 to Larry Gilbert and Bob Borowicz.

At that point it was possible for the United States to gain a whitewash in the first session but the Anglo-Irish partnership of Peter Cowen and David Jones gained a point against Tom Wargo and Mike San Filippo. There was never more than one hole in it and Jones sank a putt from 15 feet to make it all square at the 15th. The turnaround came at the 16th and 17th greens, where the Americans twice three-putted and Jones and Cowen won 2 and 1.

Europe gained a second point in even more dramatic circumstances through Nick Job and Chris Hall. They were one down with three holes to play but at the 16th Mike Schuchart drove the American ball into the edge of a lake. His partner, Steve Veriato, removed a sock and a shoe, placed one foot in the water and managed to splash the ball on to terra firma. Veriato was not best pleased when Schuchart then hit their third shot into the water in front of the green. Job and Hall got a safe four at the hole to make it all square and went one up when Job rolled in a 12-foot putt for a two at the 17th. Two birdie fours at the last, where Job played a magnificent pitch shot to three feet, gave the European pair a one-hole victory.

Europe had no such luck in the fourballs in the afternoon. Paul Leonard, the non-playing captain, left out Weir and Chillas and brought in Brian Rimmer and Tim Giles. They were beaten 5 and 4 by the Gilbert-Borowicz combination, who went to the turn in 32 with birdies at the third, the fourth, the sixth and the eighth. That put them three up and Borowicz applied the finishing touches with winning birdies at the 11th and the 13th.

Wargo, at 50 the oldest player in the competition, teamed up with Ron McDougal in the fourballs and defeated Job and Hall 4 and 3. The turning point came at the ninth, which Wargo won with a four after both Englishmen missed short putts. The Americans went two up, courtesy of a Wargo birdie at the 10th and the coup de grace came from McDougal, who had birdie threes at the 14th and 15th holes.

The only addition to Europe's score in the afternoon came from Cowen and Jones, but even that was marred by a feeling of anti-climax. They were one up playing the last against Schuchart and Lee Rinker but Cowen twice put his ball into the Lake of Knowledge and Jones could score no better than a five to Schuchart's four. That was achieved with the help of a tremendous one-iron approach shot over the water from 240 yards. It gave the Americans a half. It gave Europe a headache.

In the final match Hoskison and Maltman went down 2 and 1 to Upper and Fieger after being four down at the turn.

PGA CUP (County Kildare, Irl) Europe v United States (Europe names first): Foursomes: D Jones and P Cowen bt T Wargo and M San Filippo 2 and 1; C Hall and N Job bt S Veriato and M Schuchart 1 hole; J Hoskison and C Maltman lost to L Gilbert and B Borowicz 3 and 2; R Weir and J Chillas lost to B Upper and G Fieger 6 and 4. Foursomes result: Europe 2 United States 2. Fourballs: Jones and Cowen halved with Schuchart and L Rinker; Job and Hall lost to Wargo and R McDougal 4 and 3; B Rimmer and T Giles lost to Gilbert and Borowicz 5 and 4; Maltman and Hoskison lost to Upper and Fieger 2 and 1. Fourballs result: Europe 1/2 US 3 1/2 . Match score: Europe 2 1/2 US 5 1/2 .