South Africa Takes Commanding Lead

By Sports NetworkNovember 15, 2003, 5:00 pm
KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. -- Rory Sabbatini and Trevor Immelman teamed for a 9-under 63 in Saturday's four-ball competition to extend South Africa's lead after three rounds of the World Golf Championships-World Cup. The pair stands at 14-under-par 202 and owns a seven-shot lead over teams from the United States and France.
U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk and 1997 British Open winner Justin Leonard paired for a 4-under 68 on Saturday to join Frenchmen Thomas Levet and Raphael Jacquelin, who also combined for a 68, at 7-under-par 209.
Saturday's action was contested in four-balls, or better-ball. Sunday's final round will be played as foursomes, or alternate shot.
The German team of Alex Cejka and Marcel Siem and Sweden's tandem of Fredrik Jacobson and Niclas Fasth posted rounds of 5-under 67 on Saturday and share fourth place at minus-5.
South Africa held a two-shot lead after the first two rounds but wasted little time in extending the margin. Sabbatini rolled home a 10-footer for birdie at the first and the team made it three birdies in a row out of the gate.
'We got off to a great start with three straight birdies and that got us settled down,' said Immelman. 'We played the front nine as good as you can play and it was fantastic to go out there and play so well.'
The duo collected three birdies in a row again, this time from the fifth to pull away from the field.
At the par-5 11th, Sabbatini missed the green short with his second shot but pitched to five feet to set up another birdie. He made it two in a row when he drained a 45-footer from the right side of the green at the par-4 12th.
While Sabbatini was making a mess of the 15th hole, Immelman sank a 20-footer from below the hole for the team's ninth birdie. The team made a solid par after poor drives at the 17th and now have a commanding lead heading into Sunday.
'I would take 18 pars right now and run,' said Sabbatini, who won this year's FBR Capital Open on the PGA Tour. 'I have to say that our 63 is a pretty impressive effort. The course is tough and nothing's easy, even when there is not a breath of wind.'
If South Africa reaches the winner's circle on Sunday, it would mark the second victory for the country in the last three years. Ernie Els and Retief Goosen won a playoff two years ago in Japan and with those two off this week to prepare for next week's Presidents Cup, Immelman and Sabbatini were happy to have the opportunity to represent their country. Especially since both were passed up by International captain Gary Player for the Presidents Cup.
'Missing the team is behind me,' said Immelman. 'So I'm not trying to prove anything to anybody. I'm just here trying to play good golf. It's a great honor to be here and represent the country.'
The Americans mixed five birdies and one bogey on Saturday but are realistic about their chances on Sunday.
'It's never easy making up seven shots. It's possible in alternate-shot format,' said Leonard. 'Neither of us have played great but we haven't played poorly. It's just a matter of hopefully things will kind of fall into place and if we get rolling, see what happens.'
The French pair were alone in second place but a late bogey at the 16th cost them a stroke. Like the Americans, the French know they will have to play very well in the final round if they are to overcome this huge margin.
'It's going to be very difficult for us now,' admitted Jacquelin. 'I feel the South Africans only really need to put the ball on the fairway but we have always known that foursomes is the key to doing well this week and we played pretty well in that format yesterday.'
Spain's Ignacio Garrido and Miguel Angel Jimenez and England's Justin Rose and Paul Casey each combined to shoot 66s on Saturday and are tied for with sixth with Scotland's Alastair Forsyth and 1999 British Open champion Paul Lawrie. The three teams are knotted at 4-under-par 212.
Argentina's combination of Eduardo Romero and Angel Cabrera paired for a 70 and are tied for ninth with the Welsh duo of Ian Woosnam and Bradley Dredge at minus-3.
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.