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Warren Bennett

US win first Warburg Cup

Arnold Palmer defeated longtime rival Gary Player in singles and captained the United States to a comeback 12 1/2 -11 1/2 victory over the World team Sunday at the inaugural UBS Warburg Cup.

The 72-year-old Palmer talked all week about how his game was no longer in shape. But he had a 4-up lead on the 66-year-old Player through 12 holes and held on for a 2 and 1 victory in this Ryder Cup-style event for players 40 and older.

Mark Calcavecchia, who folded during the 1991 Ryder Cup on this course, made a crucial birdie on the par-3 17th for a 1-up win over Ian Woosnam. Calcavecchia made a 6 on that hole during his singles match at the Ryder Cup on The Ocean Course.

Larry Nelson clinched the cup with a 3-and-2 win over New Zealand's Frank Nobilo, who lost his ball in the long reeds and marsh grass along the 16th hole.

But the U.S. rally started with Palmer.

After his 2-foot putt for a winning bogey on the 17th, Palmer congratulated Player then got in a cart to urge on his team. ``OK,'' Palmer told his caddie, ``we'll head for the barn.''

The International team led seven of 12 matches midway through and looked poised to take the first Warburg trophy. Then things started falling for the Americans.

Scott Hoch, 1-down to Isao Aoki at the turn, had a birdie on the 16th and par on the dangerous No. 17 par-3 water hole to take the match, 2 and 1.

Curtis Strange, the 2002 Ryder Cup captain, wiped out a 4-up lead by rival Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance with birdies on the 11th, 12th, 14th, 15th and 16th holes to halve the match.

John Cook trailed Jose Maria Canizares by a hole through No. 14. But Canizares went double bogey, bogey and put a tee shot on the 17th in the water as the United States tied things for the first time all weekend.

Ray Floyd made a 2-footer for a birdie to win the 18th hole and tie Ian Stanley.

``Our captain kind of inspired us,'' said Mark O'Meara, a 5 and 4 winner over Stewart Ginn. ``There was a lot of black on the board earlier. It looks like the tide has turned.''

The 12 World members get $100,000 from the $3 million in prize money. The Americans will get $150,000 apiece.

The event, as Palmer and Player have said all week, was a joyous match among some of the game's greatest names. It was also a chance to relive some moments from the 1991 Ryder Cup, the pressure-packed weekend in which the Americans won when Bernhard Langer missed a chance to beat Hale Irwin and retain the Cup by sliding a 5-foot par try by the hole on No. 18.

Irwin and Langer, matched up this time, halved the match without the dramatics of 10 years ago.

``I suppose it's just fate,'' said Langer, part of the European team for the 2002 Ryder Cup. ``We tied our last match. We tied again.''

For Calcavecchia, there was no crying on the seaside course's sand dunes like last time. A hole down to Woosnam, Calcavecchia put his tee shot inside 8 feet on No. 17 for birdie.

The long-ago mistake wasn't far from Calcacvecchia's mind. He worried if he swung like he did when making a 16th-hole bogey, ``it's going to wind up in the same spot as 10 years ago,'' Calcavecchia said. ``I let out a sigh of relief when it landed on the green.''

Woosnam, who played on the losing Ryder team a decade ago, said Calcavecchia proved a champion this time.

``Mark answered the questions on 17 from the Ryder Cup,'' he said. ``It was a great shot.''

Warburg Cup tournament director Peter German said while UBS Warburg is committed for five years. The original plan was to alternate sites between the United States and the rest of the world, but no decision has been made about next year's event.

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