First, in the seniors matches, the U.S. has the edge in major championships won. But that isnt really meaningful when players like Allen Doyle, Bruce Fleisher and Jim Thorpe -none of whom are on the American team ' have been so successful. Who knows how effective Jack Nicklaus will still be? Raymond Floyd? Palmer? Floyd, though, would have won at the TransAmerica at age 59 were it not for some late heroics by Sammy Rachels.
Two of the over-50s from the International team will come from the top of the European Senior Tour. They have current experience. So does Stewart Ginn, also widely unrecognized inside the U.S. Jose Maria Canizares and Isao Aoki are solid players, if no longer the stalwarts they once were.
America has Hale Irwin, Larry Nelson and Tom Watson, still genuine superstars. Irwin is better than any of the Internationals. Nelson has the potential to be, and so does Watson, if he is putting like he once did.
The 12 players who are ages 40-49 (six on each side) also appear to be just about even. Ryder Cup players Scott Hoch and Mark Calcavecchia are the anchors of the U.S. squad. Hoch has won twice on the PGA Tour this year, although he is still recovering from a wrist ailment. Calcavecchia set a Tour record at Phoenix with a score of 28 under-par, even though his recent record has been spotty.
Countering those two will be Internationals Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam. European Ryder Cupper Langer is high on both the U.S. and Europe in money won and has won twice in Europe. Woosnam very nearly won the British Open, where he received a two-shot penalty for having an extra driver in his golf bag. He broke through with a victory in the Cisco World Match Play Championship, nosing out Padraig Harrington in the final match.
Mark OMeara and Ryder Cup captain Curtis Strange are struggling a bit playing against the younger set in America, as are Internationals Nick Faldo and Frank Nobilo and European Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance. Loren Roberts and John Cook of the U.S. have occasionally had success. Cook recently won the Reno-Tahoe Open.
Who will win? Thats a good question. It should be close. One big factor is that the majority of the International players have homes in the U.S., which is a big plus. The inaugural UBS Warburg Cup is certainly an idea whose time has come, matching the older generation.