Take 24 of the finest golfers in the world, divide them into two equal teams, add a few gray hairs, mix in a Ryder Cup format, and what youve got is the UBS Warburg Cup.
The United States is one team, the Rest Of The World is the other. The 24 men will meet in St. Simons Island, Ga., on Nov. 15 to begin three days of festivities and competition. One team will be victorious, but the only real winner will be friendship and the sport of golf itself.
The teams are each made up of six players age 40-49 and six players age 50 and over, making up the two squads of 12 players who will compete against each other. They will play six foursome (alternate shot) matches the first day, six four-ball (better ball) matches the second day, and 12 singles matches the third day Sunday.
Arnold Palmer, recently turned 73 years old but is still an active player, captains the U.S. team. Gary Player, who is 66, leads the Rest Of The World into play.
Palmer heads up a team saturated with former Ryder Cuppers. Included in the number are Hale Irwin, the Senior PGA Tours all-time leading money winner, as well as the all-time victory champion. U.S. Ryder Cup captain Curtis Strange also is a competitor, as well as Tom Watson and Raymond Floyd of the Senior Tour and Tom Lehman, Scott Hoch, Mark OMeara and Paul Azinger of the PGA Tour.
The remainder of the U.S. team will be the Senior Tours leading money winner on Oct. 27, one player from the PGA Tour who is under 50, and one special invitation for a player 50 or over.
Players team is led by Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam, three mainstays of the European Ryder Cup for years. Sam Torrance, the European Ryder Cup captain this year, is on the Warburg team. Rodger Davis and Stewart Ginn of Australia, Isao Aoki of Japan and Eduardo Romero of Argentina will also play.
Completing the visiting squad will the top two on the European Senior Tour money list and one special invitation of a player 40-49.
The 2001 UBS Warburg Cup was won by the U.S. in a razor-thin 12-11 matchup. The American win was highlighted by Palmer defeating Player in the singles match in a duel of the two captains. Captains Player and Palmer are again scheduled to play a singles match in the 2002 edition.
The 2001 matches were played at the Kiawah Island (S.C.) Ocean Course, where 10 years earlier the U.S. grabbed a narrow Ryder Cup win when Langers putt on hole No. 18 slid by the hole. Last year Langer played Irwin, also his opponent that September day in 1991, and the two tied their match this time. It was the same result as at Kiawah when the tie meant America would take the Cup.
Memories were alive and well all over as Mark Calcavecchia, who was tied by Colin Montgomerie after leading by four with just four holes to go in the 91 Ryder Cup, won this time. He outdueled Woosman, 2-and-1, stiffing an iron to eight feet on the 17th. Calcavvechia had sent a ball into the water in his loss in 91.
Mark answered any questions on 17 when he hit a great shot like that, said Woosnam. I dont mind losing to that.
The international team led, 7-5, after the first two days, but couldnt quite hold off the Americans in the singles.
IMG stages the event, which is televised by The Golf Channel. The Golf Channel devotes 52 hours of worldwide coverage to the UBS Warburg Cup. Seventeen hours of competition will be televised live on TGC, which is viewed in 50 million homes.
The matches will be televised lived from 9 AM ET to 2:30 PM ET Friday and Saturday. Singles matches on Sunday will be televised live from 9 AM to 3 PM ET. Same-day re-airs will be shown in their entirety during prime time. There will be replays the following week on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
The golf world will be watching when two dozen people go back to a special kind of friendship for the week.
This is getting back to the original of the Ryder Cup 75 years ago, said Faldo. Twenty-four guys, who all respect each other as golfers, all play like hell on the golf course and then we all go sit back and chat and tell some good bar stories.
Such is the UBS Warburg Cup. Competition? Sure. But more that, it is about lifelong friendships and pure sportsmanship.