Fab Foursome take on ‘oar-some’ mangrove challenge!

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Four of the world’s top 10 squeezed in an unexpected spot of short game practice in a unique ‘pitch n’ paddle’ challenge on Yas Island ahead of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship 10-year milestone.

Firing biodegradable ‘fish food’ balls from a jetty against a backdrop of mangroves between the ninth and 18th holes of Yas Links Abu Dhabi, Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler paired up to take on Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose.

The session saw the two teams race to be the first to hit two floating targets attached to kayaks steered by their own caddies. Stenson and Rose started strong, hitting the first 30 yard target in just three shots whilst McIlroy and Fowler struggled. However, panic struck for the dynamic duo – and their caddie – after world number one McIlroy evened up the score. Fowler sealed the deal by introducing his ‘skip shot’ – skimming the ball across the water’s surface to strike the final 60 yard target to take the title.

“We sort of struggled at the start,” said McIlroy. “Once we finally hit the target at the first yardage then momentum was on our side.” Fowler added: “We fed a lot of fish that’s for sure!”

“It’s a bit of a shock to the system to be honest,” joked Rose. “We’re going to have to go away and regroup and hopefully this won’t affect us in the next Ryder Cup.”

Tomorrow’s Championship will see a host of the world’s best challenging for the coveted Falcon Trophy, including four of top 10 (McIlroy, Stenson, Rose and Fowler), South African Ernie Els, three-time Falcon Trophy winner Martin Kaymer, Ryder Cup star Victor Dubuisson and Abu Dhabi’s global golf ambassador Matteo Manassero, along with a host of past champions.

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