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.
 
Related Links:
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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.