South Africa World Dominators

By Sports NetworkNovember 16, 2003, 5:00 pm
KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. -- Rory Sabbatini and Trevor Immelman only managed a 1-over 73 Sunday but still teamed to give South Africa a four-shot victory at the World Golf Championships-World Cup. South Africa finished at 13-under-par 275 and finished four ahead of the English duo of Justin Rose and Paul Casey, who fired a 67 on Sunday.
The win was the fifth for South Africa in the World Cup. Three-time major winner Ernie Els and 2001 U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen won in a playoff two years ago in Japan and the country also won in 1996 (Els and Wayne Westner), 1974 (Bobby Cole and Dale Hayes) and 1965 (Gary Player and Harold Henning).
'We were both excited coming here, excited to have the opportunity,' said Immelman. 'I think we had a great week. As a whole, both of us played really well.'
The pair split $1.4 million.
France's Thomas Levet and Raphael Jacquelin combined for a 1-under 71 in Sunday's foursomes, or alternate-shot format. They finished in third place at 8-under-par 280.
South Africa took a seven-stroke lead into Sunday's final round. None of the other teams made a move up the leaderboard and that was fine for South Africa because the pair struggled throughout most of the round.
At the fourth, Sabbatini hit a horrendous drive that landed in the reads. Immelman could not advance the ball and Sabbatini was able to punch it 15 yards up the fairway. Immelman knocked his approach to 20 feet and Sabbatini rolled home the putt to save bogey.
Another errant tee shot hurt the South African squad at the 10th. Sabbatini's tee ball landed in the first cut on the right and Immelman missed the green. Sabbatini was able to putt the ball but it came up five feet short of the hole. Immelman's par-saving putt slid by on the left side.
France and England were slightly inching closer to the South African tandem but Immelman chipped the team's third to two feet at the par-5 11th. Sabbatini kicked in the team's first birdie of the round to put some more distance between themselves and their competitors.
Immelman drove into a cavernous bunker at 13, a bunker that the German team needed three to get out of en route to a double bogey on Friday. Sabbatini got it out of the trap and Immelman played a spectacular third to seven feet. Sabbatini sank the par save to keep the South Africans well ahead of everyone.
'I saw Germany's struggles in the bunker and I walked up there and said to myself, 'regardless of what lie we have, this ball is either going sideways out the bunker or whatever way it needs to go out of the bunker on the first time,' said Sabbatini.
Sabbatini missed a short par putt at the 14th and Rose drained a birdie putt at 18 to get the English duo within three of the lead. Sabbatini played a great wedge to 12 feet to set up Immelman's birdie putt to go four ahead.
The South African duo played conservatively on the final four holes to preserve the win.
'I think we proved to ourselves today that we can hang in there,' said Immelman. 'It's a fantastic feeling. We wanted to play well and win this thing.'
The English team, the youngest of the 23 teams that finished the tournament, mixed seven birdies and two bogeys on Sunday for their 5-under-par 67. This duo is steadily moving up as last year they shared third place.
'Thursday and Friday one of us would play well and the other guy would go AWOL,' said Rose, referring to the 73s the English team carded on Thursday and Friday. 'On the weekend, we backed each other up nicely.'
Germany, comprised of Alex Cejka and Marcel Siem, shot a 1-under 71 and took fourth place at minus-6. Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley, who won this event the last time it was staged at Kiawah Island in 1997, combined for a 67 and shared fifth place with the United States.
Reigning U.S. Open winner Jim Furyk and 1997 British Open champion Justin Leonard were in the mix early on the back nine. They bogeyed the 12th and triple bogeyed the 13th to shoot a 3-over 75 and join the Irishmen at 4-under-par 284.
Japan, the 2002 winner, tied for seventh place after a 3-under 69 by Shigeki Maruyama and Hidemichi Tanaka on Sunday. They joined the Swedish duo of Fredrik Jacobson and Niclas Fasth at 3-under-par 285.
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