Els to Meet US Open Champ in Finals

By Sports NetworkOctober 13, 2007, 4:00 pm
HSBC World Mach Play ChampionshipsSURREY, England -- Ernie Els, a six-time winner of this event, rallied on the second 18 Saturday to defeat Henrik Stenson, 3 and 2, and advance to the finals of the HSBC World Match Play Championship.
 
Els will face reigning U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera, who held off Hunter Mahan, 2 and 1, in Saturday's other semifinal match at Wentworth Club. Cabrera advanced to the final for the first time in four tries.
 
The second-seeded Els did not grab the lead in his match until the 25th hole. Stenson took a 1-up lead thanks to an Els bogey on the second, and the duo matched birdies on four and 11.
 
Els squared the match with an eagle on the par-5 12th. Stenson rebounded with a birdie on 13 to regain the advantage, but he gave that up with a double-bogey on the par-4 15th.
 
The duo swapped birdies on 16 and 17, then Stenson birdied the 18th to lead 1-up into the second 18. Els squared the match with a 20-foot birdie putt on the 19th and he would not trail again.
 
The match remained all square until Stenson three-putted for bogey on the 25th, giving Els his first lead. The South African quickly pushed his advantage to 3-up with back-to-back birdie putts from inside 6 feet at the 26th and 27th.
 
Stenson, who won the WGC - Accenture Match Play earlier this year, responded with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 28th to get back to 2-down. The two both birdied the 30th.
 
'I struck the ball nicely on the front nine,' Els stated. 'I played actually quite good, but I hit a bad tee shot on 10 and it kind of stuck with me a little bit.'
 
Els parred the next three holes as his lead grew to 3-up as Stenson could not save par on the 33rd after finding a fairway bunker off the tee. Els two-putted for par on the 34th and when Stenson's 12-foot birdie putt missed, Els was heading to the final again.
 
'I grinded it out. I made the putts when I needed to and some were huge putts,' Els said. 'I kind of putted like Henrik did this morning. The putter saved the day in the end.'
 
Cabrera never trailed against Mahan, who bogeyed the third to fall 1-down. The duo traded wins on six and seven before Cabrera dropped in birdies on eight and nine to push his lead to 3-up.
 
Mahan took the 10th with a birdie, but Cabrera responded with a birdie on 12. Mahan again got back within 2-down when he birdied the 15th. Cabrera pushed his lead back to 3-up with an eagle on the par-5 18th.
 
Cabrera pulled away early on the second 18 as he birdied the 19th and Mahan bogeyed the 21st. Cabrera extended his lead to 6-up with an eagle on the par-5 22nd.
 
However, Mahan rallied with four birdies in the next six holes to drop his deficit from 6-down to 2-down. Cabrera got one back as he birdied the 29th.
 
'I knew it wasn't me. He came back and made birdies,' Cabrera explained through his caddie/interpreter. 'Then I knew it was up to me when I was 2-up.'
 
Cabrera held on to his 3-up lead as the duo halved four straight holes. Mahan was 3-down with three to go, but kept battling. He made an 11-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the 34th to extend the match.
 
After Mahan made a 6-foot birdie putt on the 35th, Cabrera drained a 5-footer for birdie to close out the match and advance to the finals.
 
'I am really delighted. I played some of my best golf today, especially in the afternoon,' said Cabrera, who was 12 under for 35 holes Saturday. 'I only had one bogey. Hunter came back really strong and it was a really, really tight match and I'm happy to win.'
 
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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.