Seeking their first win in the four years of this annual competition, the ROW team jumped out of the gates with a 3 -2 lead over the Americans.
The ROW won three of the six foursomes (alternate shot) matches Friday on the Cassique Course and halved another.
Theyve won this battle before, but theyve yet to win the war.
This marks the third time in four years that they have won the foursomes session and entered Day 2 with an advantage. Yet, the U.S. won the competition in 2001 and 2002, and retained the Cup with a 12-12 tie a year, when, incidentally, the ROW also led 3 -2 after the first day.
It's like running a mile and leading after the first quarter-mile,' said Player. 'It doesn't mean anything.'
The two sides will play six four-ball (better ball) matches Saturday and 12 singles matches Sunday. The U.S. needs 12 points to keep the Cup, the ROW needs 12 points to win.
Match 1: Arnold Palmer/Jay Haas (USA) vs. Gary Player/Mark McNulty (ROW)
The first match out finished level, but was a constant see-saw affair.
The two teams spent most of the front nine trading winning holes, beginning with Player and McNultys birdie at the par-5 second. Palmer and Haas won the third and fifth holes; Player and McNulty the fourth and sixth.
Palmer and Haas managed to take a 1-up lead by winning the ninth and 12th holes with pars, but Player and McNulty turned that right around with back-to-back wins on 15 and 16.
Trailing by one, Haas made a 25-foot birdie at the par-4 17th to win the hole and draw even in the match.
At the last, Palmer missed a 25-footer for birdie, giving McNulty a 12-footer for birdie and the win. The Zimbabweans winning effort slid by on the right-hand side, thus ending the match in a tie.
This is what its all about, said Palmer. Great match, great day, great people.
Match 2: Tom Kite/Raymond Floyd (USA) vs. Bernhard Langer/Colin Montgomerie (ROW)
On paper this seemed like a mismatch, given Langers and Montgomeries exemplary record as a team in match play.
But every member of every U.S. team in every competition knows that that piece of paper is only fit for the recycle bin.
Langer and Montgomerie, who entered the match 7-1-1 as team members in the Ryder Cup and UBS Cup, got off to a slow start, bogeying each of their first two holes to fall 2-down.
But thanks to making five 3s in a six-hole stretch, they managed to take a 1-up lead after 10.
The U.S. made a late rally, birdying 15-17, culminating that run with a Kite hole-out from the bunker. But they only managed to pick up one hole, as the ROW duo birdied both 15 and 17.
All square at the last, Floyd had a 25-foot putt for the win, only to blow it six feet past the hole. Kite missed the comeback putt to give Langer and Montgomerie a 1-up win with a par.
I take the blame, said Floyd. That jars you when you do that when you need it.
Yes, we were given a gift at the last ' you have to accept that. But at the same time, it was a well-fought game,' said Montgomerie.
Match 3: Fred Funk/Hale Irwin (USA) vs. Sam Torrance/Barry Lane (ROW)
It looked simple: Funk would hit it close, Irwin would make the putt. Funk and Irwin combined to play their 15 holes in 8 under en route to an easy 5-and-3 victory over Torrance and Lane.
Lane holed a 90-yard approach shot at the par-4 eighth for eagle to get his team 1-down. But that was as close as they would get.
The U.S. team birdied 10, 11, 13 and 15 ' each time to win the hole. The ROW team parred their final seven holes following Lanes hole-out.
Its tough to beat 7, 8 under in foursomes, said Torrance. But its a team event, and were doing OK.
Playing with Hale, all I had to do is get it on the green somewhere and hes going to make it. Tom Kite told me that and its true, said Funk.
Match 4: Tom Watson/Scott Hoch (USA) vs. Ian Woosnam/Sandy Lyle (ROW)
So much for home-course advantage.
Watson, the Cassique Course designer, and Hoch never had the lead in this match. Woosnam and Lyle birdied the first hole and managed a 2-up lead after eight holes.
They extended that advantage to 5-up by winning holes 11-13. Watson and Hoch won the 14th, but matching birdies at the par-5 15th closed the match, 4 and 3.
Match 5: Curtis Strange/Craig Stadler (USA) vs. John Chillas/Carl Mason (ROW)
If the adage, If you have nothing good to say, then dont say anything at all, were to apply to this match, then this would be the only line in this synopsis.
John Chillas and Carl Mason didnt make a birdie until the par-4 11th ' and that put them 5-up in their match.
The European Senior Tour tandem made nine pars and one bogey over their first 10 holes and still had a 4-up lead, because Craig Stadler and Curtis Strange made five bogeys and no birdies in that same span.
The U.S. team finally made their first birdie of the day at the par-4 14th and added another at 15. But it wasnt nearly enough, as Chillas and Mason also birdied 15 to win, 4 and 3 ' even though they were 1 over for the day.
Strange is now 0-3-1 in four foursomes matches in this competition.
Match 6: Hal Sutton/Fred Couples (USA) vs. Peter Senior/Rodger Davis (ROW)
In the days final match, Sutton and Couples played flawless golf in winning, 3 and 2, over Australians Senior and Davis.
Team Sutton and Couples was the only one of any of the 12 twosomes who didnt make a bogey Friday.
Their four birdies were more than enough to fend off the Aussies, who also had four birdies, but four bogeys as well.
We just kept putting the pressure on them ' hit fairways, hit greens, and made some putts, said Sutton, who improved his UBS record to 4-0-0.