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PALMER INSPIRES WATSON IN UBS WARBURG CUP

Arnold Palmer figured he was just going along for the ride in a best-ball match Saturday with Tom Watson.

He wound up sparking their comeback by making a 40-foot birdie putt.

"When he made that putt on the long par 3, I said, 'You know what? We're in the game now,' " Watson said.

Watson followed Palmer's heroics with three birdie putts of his own as they rallied for a 3-and-2 victory over Gary Player and Bernhard Langer in the UBS Warburg Cup.

The United States and the Rest of the World split the best-ball matches on a rainy day at Sea Island Golf Club, allowing the Americans to take a 6 1/2 -5 1/2 lead into the 12 singles matches Sunday.

"I was just along for the walk," said Palmer, the 73-year-old playing captain for the U.S. team. "Tom did the damage on the back side. I contributed, and that's all I wanted to do."

Three holes down at the turn, Palmer and Watson won six straight holes to close out the match on the 16th hole.

"We saw Arnold make the putt at the 12th, and it seemed like every hole we heard the gallery yell," said Raymond Floyd, playing in the match behind. "It looked like Watson started making everything. That was pretty good stuff."

Watson carried the load, especially when it started pouring. The five-time British Open champion plays his best in the worst weather, and Watson birdied four of six holes once it started raining.

Palmer and Player won't get any help today. For the second straight year, the captains will play each other in the opening match. Other singles matches include Curtis Strange against Sam Torrance in a showdown of Ryder Cup captains, and Mark O'Meara against Nick Faldo.

The Americans wound up winning the first three best-ball matches to assure themselves the lead going into the final day.

Tom Lehman and Floyd defeated Torrance and Ian Woosnam, 2 and 1; and Fred Funk made a crucial birdie on the 17th as he and Bob Gilder hung on for a 1-up victory over Isao Aoki and Seiji Ebihara.

Hyundai matches end today

DANA POINT, Calif. -- Mark Calcavecchia had five birdies and partner Fred Couples added three birdies to defeat the team of Peter Jacobsen and Scott McCarron 5 and 4 in the opening round of the $1.2 million Hyundai Team Matches.

Peter Lonard carded seven birdies as he and partner Rich Beem defeated Jerry Kelly and Chris Smith 3 and 2. Lonard and Beem will face Calcavecchia and Couples for the championship today at the St. Regis Monarch Beach and Spa.

The two-day event features players from the PGA, Senior PGA and LPGA tours. All three tours play the course to a par 70.

PGA Seniors Jim Thorpe and John Jacobs teamed to defeat Doug Tewell and Bruce Lietzke 2 and 1. Thorpe and Jacobs will play Allen Doyle and Dana Quigley for the senior title.

Dottie Pepper and Julie Inkster defeated Laura Diaz and Heather Bowie 2 and 1. They will face Lorie Kane and Janice Moodie.

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