Colin Montgomerie and Bernhard Langer reproduced their Ryder Cup form to inspire the Rest of the World to a slender 3 1/2 to 2 1/2 lead over the United States after the opening day of the UBS Cup.
The duo were unbeaten in three matches together at The Belfry last year, earning two-and-a-half points out of three and also then winning their respective singles matches on Sunday.
It was therefore no surprise when captain Tony Jacklin put them together again in Friday’s foursomes as the visitors attempted to claim their first victory in the third staging of the Ryder Cup-style event for players over 40.
And the decision paid off when they crushed Ray Floyd and Hale Irwin 5 & 3 at Sea Island to claim the first point of the contest.
Jacklin himself then earned the second minutes later, combining with Nick Faldo to beat 74-year-old American captain Arnold Palmer and Rocco Mediate by one hole.
Carl Mason and Bill Longmuir surrendered a two-hole lead to go down to an 18th-hole birdie from Scott Hoch and 2004 Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton, but Argentinian pair Eduardo Romero and Vicente Fernandez were three under par in beating Tom Watson and Curtis Strange 4 & 3.
Mark O’Meara and Craig Stadler birdied three of the last five holes to beat Ian Woosnam and Barry Lane by one hole, while Des Smyth and Rodger Davis halved their match with Brad Faxon and Bruce Lietzke.
Montgomerie chipped in for birdie to win the second and par was good enough to claim the next as well after Irwin missed the green and a six-foot par putt.
Further birdies at the seventh and eighth and a par on the ninth took them five up at the turn and it was not until the 14th that the American team won a hole, Floyd holing for birdie to keep the match alive.
It was only a temporary reprieve however and the victory was completed by a superb Langer bunker shot on the 15th.
The 2004 European Ryder Cup captain said: “I started off a little shaky but we managed no dropped shots and Colin started off on fire, hitting one perfect shot after another.
“Once we got ahead in the match we never really made any mistakes and Colin was great to play with. We’re glad to put a point on the board for the Rest of the World team after losing the past two contests.”
Jacklin and Faldo were three ahead after seven and seemingly in control until Mediate holed for birdie on the 16th to close the gap to just one hole, and the same player then almost holed from a greenside bunker on the 18th.
“It was nip and tuck,” said Jacklin, Europe’s most successful Ryder Cup captain ever with two wins and one tie from four contests.
“They came back strong. Rocco’s shot out of the bunker on 18 nearly gave me heart failure. I didn’t want to let my old Ryder Cup team-mate down.”