Trevor Immelman and Rory Sabbatini were a dominant team at Kiawah Island Golf Resort as they won the World Cup of Golf for South Africa.
‘I wouldn’t say there is a hole where you can rest here,’ said Alex Cejka, who partnered Marcel Siem to co-lead for Germany in the first round. ‘Every shot you have to give 100%, otherwise you miss it on the wrong side and there is no shot at all.’
Immelman, a 23-year-old, teamed up with Rory Sabbatini in the hopes of emulating the World Cup success of Retief Goosen and Ernie Els in 2001, who had won a four-way playoff over New Zealand and Denmark.
This week there would be no playoff, but a runaway victory that started with Immelman and Sabbatini combining in a Thursday better-ball for a round of 70 at the breezy South Carolina coast. They shared fifth place early into the tournament, chasing the German front-runners.
The pair gelled in the second round on Friday, each sinking clutch putts to back up the other during the Friday foursomes, eventually signing for a round of 69. They rose into the lead for the first time that afternoon, playing alternate shots with ease and setting the tone for an impressive team effort.
The format returned to betterball on Saturday and the South Africans, now comfortable with each other’s game, fired on all cylinders. Pete Dye’s par-72 layout yielded under the pressure of two professionals at the top of their game and the duo carded an incredible 63 for a seven-stroke cushion going into Sunday.
‘I would take 18 pars right now and run,’ said Sabbatini after the third round. ‘Everybody is trying to catch us and it’s up to them to try, and the more you do that on this course, the more it hits you back.’
The 23 other national teams were playing for second place, but a pep talk between Englishmen Justin Rose and Paul Casey got the Brits fired up. They combined for a Sunday foursomes round of 67, one stroke less than their goal at the start of the day. They were revelling in England’s Rugby World Cup victory over France in the semi-finals, and reciprocated on the golf front.
‘South Africa were 10 ahead of us at the start of the day, so realistically we were looking for second, and just wanted to beat France twice in one day,’ joked Casey.
The Rainbow Nation’s bid was safe in the hands of Immelman and Sabbatini, ranked 57th and 71st in the world respectively. They hung tough and shot 73 in the final round for a 13-under-par total and a four-stroke victory over England. It was South Africa’s fifth win in the tournament’s 50-year history and marked both players as world-beaters. Immelman went on to win The Masters, and Sabbatini four more times on the PGA Tour.
HOW THEY FINISHED
1 South Africa 70 69 63 73 275
2 England 73 73 66 67 279
3 France 69 72 68 71 280
4 Germany 67 77 67 71 282
T5 Ireland 74 77 66 67 284
T7 United States 71 70 68 75 284
T7 Japan 74 71 71 69 285
T7 Sweden 72 72 67 74 285
T9 Paraguay 70 75 70 71 286
T9 Scotland 71 73 68 74 286
T9 South Korea 71 75 71 69 286