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Franco clinches win at SAS Invitational

First day report

Carlos Franco of Paraguay shot a 7-under-par 65 for Tuesday's lowest score, clinching the Rest of the World team's victory over the Nordic team in the SAS Invitational.

Franco, who won twice on the PGA Tour last year, beat Sweden's Robert Karlsson by three shots in the next-to-last match of the day on Oslo Golfklubb's hilly course, with the famed Nordic ski center Holmenkollen as backdrop.

Sergio Garcia birdied the last hole after a spectacular approach shot within two feet of the pin, earning the young Spaniard a tie (68-68) with Norwegian Per Haugsrud in the last match that made the final score 7 1/2 -4 1/2 .

Haugsrud has been struggling on the European PGA Tour in recent years, but nobody in the SAS field knows the Oslo course better. He is still undefeated in the SAS event, defeating Mark O'Meara in 1998 when the American won both the (U.S.) Masters and the British Open, and seven-time European PGA Tour money-winner Colin Montgomerie in 1999.

The two sides were tied 3-3 after the opening matches played simultaneously Monday in the three other Nordic capitals of Stockholm, Sweden; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Helsinki, Finland.

Franco lost by seven shots in Helsinki to another Swede, Patrik Sjoland, and was eager to make up for that performance on a course he had never played before in Norway.

``I had seven birdies, no bogeys, and almost beat the course record,'' Franco said. ``It was good for the gallery, the tournament, the sponsors, good for everybody and good for me.''

It was the second victory for the Rest of the World team since the inaugural event in 1998. Last year, Tiger Woods' last-hole eagle in the last match in Copenhagen gave the World team a tie.

Woods' close friend, O'Meara, captained the World team for the third straight time and the American tied (70-70) Thomas Bjorn of Denmark, a runner-up Sunday at theOpen.

``Both of us could have made quite a few more under par, but that's the way golf is,'' said O'Meara, who lost to Karlsson by five shots Monday in Stockholm.

Other winners for the Rest of the World team were last year's British Open Champion Paul Lawrie of Scotland, who beat Anssi Kankkonen of Finland (67-71), and former two-time (U.S.) Masters champion Bernhard Langer of Germany, who downed Jesper Parnevik of Sweden (67-69).

Sjoland halved the other match, 68-68, with Retief Goosen of South Africa.

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