Palmer likes the World Cup. He is pleased to represent the U.S. and he is proud that he has been on six winning cup teams in the past. There was not much doubt about him getting cranked up somehow, and he did. In spite of frustratingly slow play, an annoying ear infection that he picked up in Hawaii and an eyeful of sand that he threw into his own face with a bunker shot. Palmer prevailed right from the beginning. His opening round of 68 tied him for the individual lead, and combined with Nicklaus' even-par 72 gave the Americans the team advantage by one stroke over Argentina. On the next day, Friday, Palmer tied for the low round again with a 70, and a Nicklaus 71 put the U.S. six strokes up. On Saturday, Nicklaus—who had been doing things that stunned the excitable Mexican gallery, such as reaching the 573-yard 11th hole with a drive and a five-iron—took up the leadership of the U.S. cause with a 69 to Palmer's 71. The U.S. was now nine strokes ahead of second-place Argentina, and 73 strokes in front of Morocco, in case Rabat wants to know.
Sunday concluded the formalities. Palmer, not quite so care-worn now that he sensed the opportunity not only to join Nicklaus in a U.S. victory but to beat Jack in the individual scoring, played masterful golf. He hit his approaches four feet from the hole at the 7th, two feet away at the 8th, and a foot away at the 9th as he played the first nine in 32 and came back in 35 for a 67 that made him the tournament low scorer by five strokes with a record-breaking 276. Nicklaus, meanwhile, had a 69 as the U.S. won the World Cup by 13 strokes over New Zealand.
There was a brief presentation ceremony, and moments later the pros were hurrying to planes for places like Latrobe, Pa., Columbus, Ohio and Cairo. "Too bad, too bad," said a subdued Cherif as he left. "But maybe someday we do better."