Give Tom Weiskopf this much: he was not going to take the safe approach. No sir, no way.
Having taken six months off from competitive golf, and still feeling a bit rusty, the Senior PGA Tour player knew the risks and rewards of the shot he attempted Sunday during the final round of the Chrysler Cup.
That he was unable to do so did not deter him.
"If you pull it off, it might mean the difference in the tournament," Weiskopf said, referring to his second shot at the par-5 15th hole, which splashed into the water fronting the green. "If I had it again, I'd still do it."
Weiskopf was well aware that he and his United States teammates were rallying from a daunting deficit, one that had been cut to two strokes by the time he stood over his 3-wood second shot at the 525-yard, par-5 15th hole at the TPC of Prestancia.
But the bogey Weiskopf made there, followed by another at the same hole by George Archer, were too much for the Americans to overcome. For the first time since 1987, and only the second time in the event's nine-year history, the International team defeated the U.S. squad.
The Internationals completed the 54-hole tournament 58 strokes under par. The United States, trailing by 10 shots when the final round began, pulled to within two strokes at 56 under.
"It's a wonderful thing," said South Africa's Gary Player, who helped hold off the Americans with 5-under-par 67. "It's good for golf. When the U.S. won the Ryder Cup all the time, it was a dead event. Then all of a sudden. "
Almost to a man, the players were much more interested in the team aspect of the tournament than they were the individual competition. That is why Archer's playoff victory over Simon Hobday seemed a bit anticlimactic. Archer's final-round 72 did not even count among the American scores. He then birdied the 18th hole, the first playoff hole, to edge Hobday for the top individual prize of $55,000.
But Hobday was more than happy to take the second-place check for $39,000, knowing that his team had finally won in this lopsided competition.
"It's been such a whitewash," said South Africa's Hobday, who shot a final-round 69. "People are tired of seeing the Yanks win all the time. It's time to give them a good smack and get the show on the road."
The Internationals did that, but it wasn't easy.
"We had a nice eight-shot lead, then I looked up at (No.) 12 and noticed how close it was," Hobday said. "The ice cubes went down my back. I couldn't believe it. I knew they'd come at us."
In the Chrysler Cup format, the match between the two eight-man teams was based on the top five scores per team each day.
For the Internationals, South Africa's Player led the way Sunday with 67, followed by Hobday and New Zealand's Bob Charles each with a 69 and a pair of 71s from Australians Bruce Devlin and Graham Marsh _ a total of 13 under par for the day. The other International players were England's Tommy Horton (72), Australia's Bruce Crampton (73) and South Africa's Harold Henning (75).
The Americans actually pulled within one shot on the back nine Sunday, with Weiskopf in position to birdie the 15th hole.
"I had a very good lie in the rough," said Weiskopf, who could have tied the match with a birdie. "It was into the wind and the ball was below my feet, but there was no doubt I was going to go for it. I caught it a little on the toe. I pull hooked it.
"I'd do it again. That's what golf is all about. It's a game of decisions. I had momentum and I just couldn't carry it through."
The U.S. team was led by Al Geiberger, who shot 66, followed by Weiskopf's 67. Jim Colbert and Dave Stockton each shot 68, and Mike Hill had 70 for a total of 21 under par. The other U.S. players were Archer (72), Chi Chi Rodriguez (72) and Miller Barber (77).
Stadler hangs on
for sentimental win
SAN DIEGO _ Finally, at age 40, Craig Stadler took a triumphant stroll up the 18th fairway of the course he played as a youngster.
Waving a club to acknowledge his first PGA victory before a hometown crowd, Stadler strode onto the final green to nail down a one-shot victory over Steve Lowery in the Buick Invitational.
"It was really special at 18," Stadler said of the roars from the gallery. The walrus-moustached Stadler, a winner 11 times in his career and one of the tour's more popular players, shot 6-under-par 66 to finish at 20-under at Torrey Pines, where he had played daily as a high school golfer.