South Africa Takes World Cup Lead

By Sports NetworkNovember 14, 2003, 5:00 pm
KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. -- Rory Sabbatini and Trevor Immelman paired to shoot a 3-under 69 on Friday to give South Africa the lead after two rounds of the World Golf Championships-World Cup. The South African team is at 5-under-par 139 and own a two-shot lead over the United States and France.
The American tandem of U.S. Open winner Jim Furyk and Justin Leonard shot a 2-under 70 in Friday's foursomes, or alternate-shot, format. The French team of Raphael Jacquelin and Thomas Levet notched an even-par round of 72 at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort.
Saturday's action will be four-balls, or best-ball, but the format returns to alternate shot for Sunday's final round.
The German team of Alex Cejka and Marcel Siem, who led after the first round, struggled badly in Friday's second round. They teamed for a 5-over 77 and are tied for sixth at even-par 144.
Sabbatini and Immelman combined for two birdies on the front nine on another day when the Ocean Course showed its teeth. The wind that wreaked havoc on play on Thursday was not up on Friday but the course was still was demanding.
Sabbatini drove to the right side of the fairway at the 12th and Immelman knocked a shot from 194 yards out to 10 feet. Sabbatini drained the putt to take a one-shot lead at 5 under par but trouble loomed for the South Africans.
At the 13th, Sabbatini miscalculated the wind and hit a 4-iron into the reeds. Immelman did the best he could but the team managed a bogey and fell into a tie for the lead.
The South Africans took sole possession of first place on the leaderboard thanks to some serious bunker problems by the German team. It took Cejka and Siem three chances to get out of a fairway bunker at the 13th and they left with a double bogey, which included a 12-footer for the save by Siem.
Germany went two-over the rest of the way to plummet down the leaderboard.
The South African duo stayed steady. At the par-3 17th, Immelman hit a solid tee ball that landed 40 feet from the hole. Sabbatini got a good read on the putt and sank the long birdie try to reach 5 under par.
'That was kind of an unexpected one,' admitted Sabbatini, who won this year's FBR Capital Open on the PGA Tour. 'That's a hole that you are quite happy to make a three on, let alone in alternate shots. We picked one up on the field there for sure.'
They parred No. 18 to take a two-shot lead into Saturday.
'All in all, that was probably one of the best rounds I've played all year,' said Immelman, playing in his first World Cup. 'We played real solid all day and putted well too.'
The Americans birdied the par-5s on the front nine, two and seven, but Leonard, who finished second on the PGA Tour in putting, lipped out a two-footer for a bogey at the eighth.
The U.S. team had birdie putts inside 10 feet at 10 and 11 but failed to convert on either. They made their final birdie of the round at the par-5 16th when Furyk cashed in a five-footer.
'Overall, the second best round of the day, so I'm pleased with the way we played,' said Furyk. 'We want to go out there and keep it up, keep the momentum going and have a good weekend.'
The French pair had problems early with a double bogey, two bogeys and two birdies over their first 10 holes. They combined to birdie two of their final four holes to join the Americans in second.
'Both Thomas and I had a good feeling on the greens and we know that playing well in the foursomes is the key to the week,' said Jacquelin. 'After the first two days we are quite confident.'
Wales, in second after day one, are still in the hunt. Ian Woosnam, a last- minute replacement for Phillip Price, and Bradley Dredge shot a 2-over 74 but are alone in fourth at 2-under-par 142.
Argentina's Eduardo Romero and Angel Cabrera posted a 1-over 73 and are in fifth place at minus-1.
Germany was joined in sixth place by Sweden's Niclas Fasth and Fredrik Jacobson (72) and 1999 British Open winner Paul Lawrie and Alastair Forsyth of Scotland.
Japan, the defending champion, recovered from Thursday's 74 with a 1-under 71 on Friday. Shigeki Maruyama and Hidemichi Tanaka share ninth place with Michael Campbell and David Smail of New Zealand and Paraguay's Carlos Franco and Marco Ruiz at plus-1.
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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.