Bravehearts Scotland won their first World Cup title in dramatic style on Sunday, beating tournament front-runners the United States at the third play-off hole.
Eight-time European number one Colin Montgomerie and young gun Marc Warren went one better than last year when they lost a spirit-crushing play-off to Germany.
They set the US ”unlikely lads” a clubhouse target of 25-under-par 263 after a sizzling final-round 66 with the gutsy Boo Weekley and Heath Slocum drawing level with a final-hole birdie for a round of 67.
In a gladiatorial showdown before massive crowds, they halved the first two play-off holes in par before Scotland broke the deadlock.
Montgomerie left his birdie effort from 25 foot on the lip before Weekley rolled his 15-foot putt for par agonisingly passed the hole.
Scotland had been World Cup runners-up six times with the US bidding for their 24th title in the storied tournament known as the Olympics of golf.
”We are really proud,” said the 44-year-old Montgomerie. ”This guy [Warren] was fantastic. He holed some great putts under pressure, especially the one in the first hole of the play-off, to keep the things alive. We were favourites from then on.”
Montgomerie was happy to have improved on a miserable play-off record and take the World Cup to the Home of Golf for the first time. ”My play-off record is absolute rubbish — that is my 10th play-off and just my second success,” he said.
”To come back after last year’s play-off defeat and win is superb,” he added, referring to the loss to Bernhard Langer and Marcel Siem in Barbados. ”We look forward already to coming back and defending.”
Warren, winner of the Johnnie Walker Championship on home soil earlier in the year, said Montgomerie was immense in the alternate foursomes format.
”In this format he is the ideal partner,” he said. ”If you hit a bad shot, you can rely on him to hole a putt or hit a good tee shot. I think it was important this year after losing in the play-off last year to be there again [in the hunt]. It would have been severely disappointing to lose. We both did great to pull through.”
It was nip and tuck all day with the US, Scotland and France all in the hunt coming down the stretch.
A superb eagle at the 555-yard 15th hole, with Warren converting from eight feet, gave Scotland a two-stroke advantage but the US drew level with two birdies in the last four holes, Slocum confidently holing a six-foot putt at the 18th to take the tournament into extra holes.
The French combination of Raphael Jacquelin and Gregory Havret needed a birdie at the last to join the play-off, but had to settle for third place after birthday boy Havret missed from long range. They carded a final-round 67.
Pre-tournament favourites England were fourth with Justin Rose and Ian Poulter failing to fully recover from an early bogey en route to a 67.
”The whole week was close but no cigar,” said European number one Rose. ”We just did not get it going at any stage.”
South Africa finished four back after a 69.
Hosts China and South Korea, playing in the same group, had their own personal battle for Asian supremacy.
Veteran Zhang Lian-wei and Liang Wen-chong, the current Asian number one, dropped a shot at the last for a 68 to fall back into a tie with Lee Sung and Lee Seung-ho on 17-under-par 271. They finished equal 11th.
The 72-hole tournament was contested by 28 nations over the spectacular Olazabal layout at Mission Hills Golf Club. — Sapa-AFP