March 06, 1995
March 06, 1995

Table of Contents
March 6, 1995




``You may call it entertainment,'' an amused George Archer
said. ``To me, it's ulcers. It's hemorrhoids.''

This is an article from the March 6, 1995 issue Original Layout

Archer, the 1969 Masters champion, made his observation last
Friday afternoon in Acapulco, in the shade of a seaside palm. He
was getting his first relief from the equatorial sun in more than
five hours, and his sweat- darkened shirt seemed a perfect
metaphor for what was eating him: the sweat- inducing character of
international team golf. Playing for the U.S. team, Archer and
his partner, Larry Gilbert, had just won an easy first-round
Chrysler Cup match, but they laughed edgily, like prisoners who
have been given the blindfold, the last cigarette and finally the
reprieve. The Cup's opening match, they had just learned, was
halved when a mortified Harold Henning of South Africa lipped out
a 30-inch putt on the 18th hole, costing his International team a
half point. And in the last of four matches, U.S. captain Jim
Colbert and his partner, Tom Wargo, were making the back nine at
Acapulco's Tres Vidas Golf Club look like Dante's Inferno.

Pressure, was it? The tendency is to snicker when the
10-year-old Chrysler Cup is called ``the Ryder Cup of Senior
golf.'' True,its U.S.-versus-the-world format mimics the biennial
grudge match between the American and the European touring pros. But
since most of the Internationals are regulars on the Senior PGA Tour,
the rivalry appears feigned. Chrysler Cup matches aren't followed by
wives wearing American-flag jumpsuits. Victory by a British
golfer isn't rewarded with galleryites flapping Union Jacks and
bellowing the Manchester United fight song, as happens at the
Ryder Cup. In fact, Chrysler Cup matches aren't much followed at
all. This year, ABC-TV reserved its live coverage for the last
nine holes on Sunday, when an eight-man U.S. team avenged last
year's upset loss to ``the World'' with an easy 11-5 victory

And let's face it, the Senior pros are too mature -- maybe
comfortable is a better word -- to pretend that playing three days
of golf with their buddies is any barometer of national pride. If
it were, three of the top-four money winners on the 1994 Senior
tour -- Dave Stockton, Lee Trevino and Ray Floyd -- wouldn't have
turned down invitations to play for the U.S., and Isao Aoki and
Gary Player might have played for the Internationals. One kept
watching first-time Chrysler Cupper Tony Jacklin for signs of the
obsessive competitiveness he displayed as a player in seven Ryder
Cups and as a four- time captain of the European side; but no,
Mexico's midday sun exposed even Jacklin as more Englishman than
mad dog. Saturday, after absorbing his second straight loss with
partner Tommy Horton, of England, Jacklin simply kissed his wife,
Astrid, and bounced his three-year-old son, Sean, on his knee.
And Archer, who claimed to be uptight, somehow found time for some
mental vacationing. During Friday's alternate-shot match, he was
caught on the 3rd tee without a club or ball, thinking it was
Gilbert's turn to tee off. ``Hey, you were asleep all day,''
Gilbert kidded him later. ``Go ahead and admit it.''

Archer grinned, but he had made his point: Team play, for golfers,
is the stuff that dreams are made of -- bad dreams. The potential
for embarrassing oneself is much greater than in individual
stroke-play events, where ineptitude is treated tenderly and
also-rans aren't seen on television. Furthermore, this year's
Chrysler Cup -- the first held outside Florida since 1986 -- was
programmed to make the players feel even less comfortable than
usual. First of all, instead of competing in straight medal play,
a format change had the teams playing one day each of foursomes
(alternate-shot), four- ball (better-ball) and individual matches,
with one point awarded for a victory and one-half for a tie. And
each contest was decided by medal score and not by the number of
holes won. This match play-medal play hybrid stripped the Cup of
some traditional strategies but forced every contest to the 18th
green and rendered no lead secure. ``It's not something I'd want
to play every day,'' International captain Bob Charles, of
Australia, admitted after his foursomes match.

``Especially for a living,'' finished his partner, Graham
Marsh, of New Zealand.

The other collar-tightener was the new Tres Vidas course, a
7,082-yard Robert Von Hagge design characterized by severe
mounding, parallel water hazards, huge bunkers and numerous
bulkheaded greens. ``It's a very tough golf course,'' said --
well, said everybody. The best measure of the layout's volatility
was Friday's foursomes match between Colbert and Wargo and the
International team's Charles and Marsh. Both pairs played
brilliantly for 10 holes, the U.S. leading by four shots at six
under. Then everything went wrong for the U.S., to the extent that
even a triple bogey by Charles-Marsh at the difficult 14th wasn't
enough to prevent an International victory by a shot, par 72 to
one-over 73.

``It was the damnedest thing,'' Colbert said later. ``We were
playing so well, and then we started hitting shots that weren't
really that bad, but we kept hitting these fairway bunkers. And
right under the lip. One hole, Tom's shooting, and the ball's so
far below his feet he almost can't reach it. The next hole, I'm
deep in a bunker, looking up a wall of sand at clouds in the
sky.'' Five bogeys and a double bogey later, both Colbert and
Wargo wandered off the 18th green in a daze, with their team's
lead whittled to 2-1/2 to 1-1/2. ``Strange game,'' said Wargo,
heading for the range.

Strange climate, too. On Saturday, Jim Albus of the U.S. side
yanked up his shirt, a la Lyndon Johnson, to reveal big blotches
of red skin, sunburned through his shirt. ``Me, too,'' said his
teammate Tom Weiskopf, pulling back his collar to reveal scorched
shoulders. Temperatures on Thursday and Friday approached 100,
accompanied by oppressive humidity, and more than one player
expressed the desire to emulate the famous cliff divers of nearby
La Quebrada. A predawn thunderstorm on Saturday provided some
relief, and that morning's overcast sky made golf shots briefly
visible to spectators. Otherwise, the high Mexican sun made most
balls vanish to the naked eye between impact and return to earth.

In the end it was how long a player could sustain this
vanishing act that made the difference. Length off the tee is
rewarded at Tres Vidas, and captain Colbert had at least one long
knocker in every pairing, led by perennial Senior tour
driving-distance winner Jim Dent. On Saturday the U.S. swept all four better-ball
matches, with Colbert and Wargo atoning by edging Bruce Crampton,
of Australia, and Antonio Garrido, of Spain, 67-68. (``This
morning I woke up and figured out the mental mistake I made
yesterday,'' the always animated Colbert said. ``I forgot that
the point is to win the match! Not to play your best golf.'')
The Bullwinkle and Rocky combination of Dent and Bob Murphy took
care of Jacklin and Horton 66-67, and the other two American pairs
won by four shots each, with Weiskopf and Albus shooting the day's
low score, a 65. Nobody was more tickled than the short-hitting
Murphy, who reached the 526-yard 17th hole in two -- two drivers,
that is -- for the second straight day. ``That's a shot we
wouldn't even have tried on the tour,'' he told a friend over the
gallery rope, ``but with these new metal woods we can hit driver
right off the fairway.'' And to his wife, who hadn't seen his tee
ball, Murphy said, ``That's because I hit it so far.''

Yeah, right. Dent reached the same flag with driver, six-iron.

Aside from being outdriven, the Internationals were consistently
outputted. The little-known Garrido, whose tournament program
picture showed him with his back to the camera, looked helpless on
Tres Vidas's Bermuda- grass greens for most of the week. On
Friday his short misses compelled Crampton -- not the cheeriest
sort even under the best of circumstances -- to go back to his
caddie for a putter to complete two of the first three holes. And
Simon Hobday, of South Africa, after practically stubbing an
uphill 12- footer for birdie on number 11 the next day, berated
himself vocally and subsequently muttered over his putter more
than is healthy.

The U.S. team's four-ball sweep made the Cup's outcome almost a
foregone conclusion, but Sunday's eight individual matches still
provided some competitive interest.

Colbert won the battle of the captains, beating Charles 69-72.
Dent then clinched victory for the Americans with a 71-76
battering of Henning. (The margin would have been even greater if
Dent hadn't topped his drive into an inconspicuous water hazard
off the 18th tee and made double bogey. ``I couldn't get over the
water,'' he later told his teammates with a grin, leading them to
assume he meant the Pacific Ocean, which borders the course.)
Gilbert and Murphy won by large margins, Gilbert shooting the
day's low round, a 68. And Wargo saved a half against Horton with
a birdie at 18, where he stuck a daring eight-iron six feet past
the pin and just short of the beach beyond.

The beach figured, as it turned out, in two late (and too
late) International victories. Jacklin went over the green on the 9th
hole against Weiskopf, but saved par by lofting a wedge from the
sand over a 15-foot-high stone bulkhead to within 15 feet of the
cup. (Outcome: Jacklin, 71-74.) And Marsh, who shot 69, easily
defeated Albus, who in addition to his sunburn also bore hip, rib
and shoulder bruises after being mugged by a freak wave Saturday
evening while swimming near his hotel.

Otherwise, all currents favored the Americans. ``We didn't play
worth a damn, did we?'' said captain Charles, making no excuses.

As for Archer, the Cup's worrywart, his worst fears came
true: He shot 76 and took a five-stroke caning from the suddenly
putting-proficient Garrido. Ever the contrarian, Archer beamed as
if he had shot the course record. ``I've been uncomfortable over
the ball,'' he said, assuming a clubless stance a few yards from
the storm-weathered stucco of the clubhouse. ``But I'm moving in
the right direction now. The whole week was positive for me.'' He
straightened and started to walk away. ``My wife and I,'' he said
with a little salute, ``had a real nice time here in Puerto

Wrong resort. Right sentiment. For the Yanks, this Chrysler
Cup was a Mexican holiday.

TWO COLOR PHOTOS:PHOTOGRAPHS BY BOB GOMEL Dent, who clinched the Cup with a singles win, was a big hitter for U.S. captain Colbert (above).[Jim Dent; Jim Colbert]TWO COLOR PHOTOS:PHOTOGRAPHS BY BOB GOMELAfter falling victim early to the severe mounding and bunkering at Tres Vidas, Wargo got a leg up in the Saturday four-ball.[view of Tres Vidas golf course; Tom Wargo with his leg in the air] COLOR PHOTO:PHOTOGRAPHS BY BOB GOMELAn armed sentinel was a jarring sight in the idyllic landscape. [silhouette of armed sentinel standing next to palm tree with ocean in background]