Els Routs Cabrera for 7th Match Play Title

By Sports NetworkOctober 14, 2007, 4:00 pm
HSBC World Mach Play ChampionshipsSURREY, England -- Ernie Els collected his record seventh title at the HSBC World Match Play Championship, defeating reigning U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera, 6 and 4, in Sunday's 36-hole final.
 
Els captured this title three times in a row twice, first from 1994-96, then from 2002-04. It was his 24th win on the European Tour and the first-place check moved him to the top of the Order of Merit.
 
'It's a dream come true,' said Els, who has a house on the course at Wentworth Club. 'I wouldn't have thought in my wildest dreams I could win this tournament seven times. It's unbelievable. It's been a great week.'
 
Els built a 3-up lead thanks to a birdie on the ninth hole in the morning. Cabrera got the 12th after a poor drive by Els, but Els got back to 3-up with a long birdie putt at 14.
 
Both players birdied the 15th, but Els hit another poor drive at 17 and lost to go 2-up. Cabrera gave him another hole before lunch when he made a mess of the par-4 closing hole.
 
After the break, Els had birdie looks at one and two, but failed to convert. He hit yet another bad drive at the third and his second shot nicked a tree. His third landed 15 feet short of the green, giving himself a chance at par. Cabrera missed right with his approach, then ran his chip 5 feet past. Els holed the putt to put the pressure on Cabrera to have to make his to halve the hole. Cabrera did not and Els moved 4-up after the unlikely par.
 
The duo birdied four and five to halve the next two, but Els blinked at six. He missed a 6-footer for birdie at the hole and Cabrera's ball rolled around the entire cup before falling for a birdie to cut the deficit to 3-down.
 
Neither player had good looks at birdie at either seven or eight and both made pars. Cabrera hit a spectacular approach inside 2 feet at the ninth and was conceded the hole when Els missed a 30-footer for birdie.
 
Now only 2-up with nine to play, Els hit a great tee ball to 18 feet at the par-3 10th. He sank the birdie putt to reclaim his 3-up margin.
 
At the par-5 12th, Els two-putted for a birdie. Cabrera had 7 feet to halve the hole and stay within striking distance, but hammered it through the break to fall 4-down with six to play.
 
Cabrera missed the green left at the 13th and knocked his third over the other side of the green. He chipped to a foot and was conceded bogey. Els had a birdie putt from the fringe, but only needed two putts to win the hole. He lagged to a foot and was conceded the win that put him 5-up with five to play.
 
Els hit a great iron shot to the par-3 14th green, stopping 10 feet right of the stick. Cabrera, needing to win every hole to square the match and force extra holes, hit his over the putting surface.
 
He chipped 4 feet past the hole, then walked over to shake Els' hand, conceding the match to the three-time major winner.
 
'Today it was all there, especially this afternoon,' said Els, who won this season's South African Airways Open. 'I didn't miss many shots and I putted nicely so it was really a nice, enjoyable round.'
 
This was Cabrera's best finish in this tournament. He lost in the semifinals in 2005, but this has been an amazing year for the Argentine with his first major victory at Oakmont.
 
'I had a great week. I played my best today, it wasn't enough. Ernie played better than me, so he won,' Cabrera said through an interpreter. 'I was lucky to win the U.S. Open. I wasn't having a good year so far until there.'
 
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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.