Immelman in the Hunt in South Africa

By Sports NetworkJanuary 17, 2004, 5:00 pm
European TourSOMERSET WEST, South Africa -- Anders Hansen shot a 4-under 68 on Saturday to move into a share of the lead after the third round of the South African Airways Open. Hansen was joined atop the leaderboard by Craig Lile at 9-under-par 207.
England's Steve Webster posted a 67 to finish one shot off the lead alone in third place at 8-under-par 208. Defending champion Trevor Immelman followed at 7-under-par 209 along with Raphael Jacquelin.
Hansen began the day in a tie for sixth at Erinvale Golf & Country Club but used a quick start to make a charge.
The Dane picked up his first birdie of the day at the par-3 second and followed that up with an eagle at the par-5 third. Hansen then birdied the par-4 fifth to reach 9 under.
Hansen added a birdie at the 13th and took the outright lead at minus 11 with a birdie at the par-4 15th.
The 33-year-old found trouble at the par-5 16th and double-bogeyed the hole under windy conditions. At the end of the day, however, Hansen's early success was enough to give him a share of the lead heading into the final round.
'I have enjoyed this week which is great,' said Hansen, who is seeking his first victory since his breakthrough at the 2002 Volvo PGA Championship. 'My scoring has been good and it has been a good start to the year for me.'
Lile, who was one of three overnight leaders, stumbled out of the gate with a bogey at the opening hole but ran off four consecutive birdies starting at the par-5 third to move to 10 under.
The South African cooled down from the point on and bogeyed the 16th to join Hansen in a tie for the 54-hole lead.
'The more times you get into a position like this, the easier it becomes,' said Lile, who carded a 70 in the third round. 'Golf is golf whether you are playing a big tournament or a small tournament. I don't know what is going to happen tomorrow, I can't control other people, but we will see what happens.'
Immelman, who earned his first career victory on the European Tour at this event last year, bogeyed the first but responded with an eagle at the third.
The 24-year-old then birdied the fifth before catching fire on the inward nine.
Immelman birdied the par-4 10th and picked up the first of three consecutive birdies at the par-3 12th to move into contention at 10-under par.
The South African, who is trying to become the first person since Gary Player to win this event in back-to-back years, fell apart down the stretch, however, with bogeys on each of his last three holes to finish two shots off the pace.
'If I can be two behind going into every final round this season it is going to be a fantastic year,' said Immelman. 'It is my first week of the year. I am going to make a few mistakes but hopefully I am not going to make them tomorrow.'
Stephen Dodd of Wales finished alone in sixth place at 6-under-par 210. Alastair Forsyth, who held a share of the 36-hole lead with Lile and Nico Van Rensburg, was one shot further back along with first-round leader Brett Rumford and Darren Fichardt at 5-under-par 211.
Van Rensburg followed at 4-under-par 212. He was joined by Charl Schwartzel, Marcus Fraser and Nic Henning in a tie for 10th.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - South African Airways Open
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.