The Rest of the World on Their Shoulders


Denis Durnian, a 52-year-old from Manchester in England, was delighted when he won the Charles Church Scottish Open at the Duke of Roxburghes course recently. He picked up a $35,000 cheque for his efforts but he knew he had ensured himself of a much larger bonus by ensuring he had clinched second spot in the European Senior money list.

His performance, after eight top-10 finishes during the season, guaranteed him a place in the Rest of the World team for the second UBS Warburg Cup ' a place worth having for a European Senior who has not become a regular on the U.S. Senior circuit. He and Japans Seiji Ebihara, who won three times on the European Senior Tour, made over $300,000 and had the No.1 spot tied up with five events to go, will be the other representative from a Tour which continues to grow, albeit slowly, as potential sponsors feel the financial pinch.
Durnian knew how much he had enjoyed himself the year before, as indeed did all the players who made up the American and Rest of the World teams. He also knew that if he were in the winning team he would make $150,000. If he was on the losing side as he was last year he would make $100,000 - big money from where he comes from.
Six-time Major winner Nick Faldo, who will be back again this year, summed it all up when he pointed out that although both sides had a fair sprinkling of golfers with Ryder Cup experience that is where comparisons with that match end.
You cannot compare the two matches. The Ryder Cup is sort of beyond golf but the UBS Warburg is probably getting back to the original concept of the Ryder Cup. In this event you have 24 golfers who respect each other, who play like hell on the course and then go back to swap golfing stories in the bar.
Along with Faldo, other Europeans who will be back at Sea Island to tackle the Seaside course are Sam Torrance, still on a high after leading his Ryder Cup side to victory and his deputy Ian Woosnam who has always loved match-play as his record in the Cisco World Match-Play proved last year. Then he beat reigning U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, former winner Colin Montgomerie, defending champion Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington en route to his third title victory in 15 years.
Torrance may well find himself up against Curtis Strange again in the singles at Sea Island which would be fun. Both men captained their sides superbly at the De Vere Belfry in the Ryder Cup and will no doubt welcome the opportunity to compete in a less tense but equally sporting atmosphere. Last year in this match they halved their game and so too did Bernhard Langer and Hale Irwin who are both back again. They halved in the 1991 Ryder Cup, halved again last year in the UBS Warburg and may well be given the opportunity by respective captains Gary Player and Arnold Palmer to complete a three-game rubber!
Barry Lane, who was a former million dollar winner of the old Anderson Consulting (now Accenture) Match-Play Championship, has made the side. And there will be delight among the many guests that Barclays Scottish Open champion Eduardo Romero will be in Georgia. Forty-eight year-old Romero is playing so well that he came within a whisker over Kingsbarns, Carnoustie and St Andrews recently of becoming the oldest winner on the European Tour.
Ebihara will feel very much at home with his old mentor Isao Aoki in the Rest of the World line-up along with Australias Rodger Davis who popularised plus twos around the world and Stewart Ginn replacing Frank Nobilo from New Zealand and Australian Ian Stanley from last years line-up. Durnian played last year with Stanley, the man who beat him to the European Senior No. 1 spot, but this time Player may well go for an all Japanese pairing Ebihara and Aoki. Who knows what the captains will do but they will enjoy the challenge.
It will be another great week according to Ken Schofield, executive director of the PGA European Tour. Both sides will compete as they only know how but there is tremendous friendship off it. What struck me last year was the camaraderie. I can only see a wonderful future for this event and we in Europe are fully behind it,' said Scholfield.
The event has already created such an impact that Greg Norman and Nick Price are already looking forward to being involved sooner rather than later if the match date does not clash with their other global commitments. One day the age limit for the seniors may be reduced from 50 to bring in players in their 40s. In Europe while discussions continue and no changes are expected in the near future there is talk of the European Senior Tour slotting in some special events which would allow - say Major title winners, Ryder Cup team members or former European No. 1s who were still a few years short of the 50 mark - to compete. UBS Warburg might just be ahead of the game with their format.
Last year in what proved to be a vital game, Arnold Palmer got the better of Gary Player in the captains match. The Rest of the World lost by a point and Gary will want his revenge. This years competition is the 39th in the series and shows no signs of running out of steam because golf fans love match play and do not see enough of it. Television networks prefer all games to come down to the last hole as they do in stroke-play competition. Last year in this event, television was well satisfied. Thirteen of the 24 matches did come down to the last and five more went to the 17th. It was that close and it will be again.
The Rest of the World squad will travel to Georgia hoping to square the series but also well aware that the Americans, after losing the Ryder Cup to Europe, will not want to lose this Cup at home. Every one of the contestants knows all about head-to-head pressure and how to handle it. The match will make for compulsive viewing again.