By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Judging by the forecast and the radar picture, it looks like the second round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial could be in for a weather delay within the next couple of hours. In the meantime, those with an early tee time -- like Rory Sabbatini -- will try to take advantage of good scoring conditions.
Sabbatini is already 4 under through his first 11 holes and 6 under for the week. That puts him just two off the current lead, though he’ll obviously need at least a couple more birdies to be in contention going into the weekend.
As for the morning vs. afternoon, the scoring average was just over a stroke difference (69.06 compared to 70.23) in the opening round and that will likely hold true again here in the second round.
As for the toughest and easiest holes on the course? The par-4 fifth was the most difficult with a scoring average of 4.135 and just 13 birdies. The par-5 first hole, meanwhile, was the easiest with a 4.683 average.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Not unexpectedly, the scoring has slowed considerably in the afternoon wave at Colonial, where the low number on the board right now is 4 under (Kent Jones and Steve Marino).
In other words, the 8-under lead of David Toms and Chez Reavie is probably safe.
Here’s a look at how some notable players are faring, though:
Sergio Garcia: The Spaniard has played much better this season -- three top-25s, which included an eighth-place finish at Bay Hill -- and he’s continued that trend this week at 3 under through 13 holes. So far, Garcia has made just one bogey.
Hunter Mahan: At 3 under Mahan also has just one bogey on his round, and he’s hit seven of 10 fairways and 10 of 12 greens so far. Given Mahan’s accuracy, he should do well here if his putter gets hot.
Zach Johnson: The defending champ has been up and down so far -- four birdies, two bogeys -- but he’s played well of late with a tie for sixth at the Wells Fargo Championship and a tie for 12th at THE PLAYERS Championship, where he closed with a 66.
John Daly: Colonial isn’t exactly a bomber’s paradise so it’s no surprise Daly has struggled a bit -- he has three bogeys and three birdies through 15 holes. Daly’s struggled with the putter, having already taken 26 putts.
Rory Sabbatini: The 2007 winner of this event has hit just half his fairways and half his greens. The result? Three bogeys to offset his three birdies.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The first round of THE PLAYERS Championship certainly offered plenty of storylines on the opening day, beginning with Tiger Woods withdrawal due to injury to Nick Watney’s 8-under 64.
The latter leaves Watney one shot clear of Lucas Glover, who is in contention less than a week after winning the Wells Fargo Championship.
The most surprising name on the leaderboard Thursday? Mark O’Meara’s. The 54-year old shot a 66 to sit in a two-way tie for third with David Toms.
Five others, including Martin Kaymer and Rory Sabbatini, meanwhile, are another stroke back at 5 under.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Nick Watney has the clubhouse lead after two-putting from 23 feet at the ninth hole for a final birdie on the way to a 64.
Watney has a one-stroke advantage over Lucas Glover, who won last week’s Wells Fargo Championship. Martin Kaymer and Rory Sabbatini are another shot back after finishing with 67s.
Watney’s round of 8 under was one stroke off the course record. He made of nine birdies, one eagle, a bogey and a double bogey.
Rory Sabbatini is hoping his 14 under at least makes a playoff. And the way Quail Hollow is playing Sunday, it just might.
Sabbatini fired off seven birdies against no bogeys Sunday, polishing off a 65 that had just 26 putts.
"Hopefully it's close to good enough. We'll see what happens," Sabbatini said. "The course was firmer and faster today. It's just in fantastic condition. They've outdone themselves this weekend giving us a golf course that's fantastic.
"The greens are about as good as you could ever imagine putting on. If you hit the ball in the right spots, give yourself some opportunities at birdies, you know, as long as you're hitting good putts, they're going to go in. That's how good the greens are."
Sabbatini made only two bogeys over the weekend after barely making the cut. He had only five birdies the first two days, then fired off 12 over the weekend.
"I'm very pleased with the way I played, and I didn't make it a situation that somebody has got to give the tournament to me today," Sabbatini said. "I played well, and if they beat me, they've out‑played me this week, so I have nothing to hang my head about."
RORY SABBATINI'S SCORECARD:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Rory Sabbatini is having an adventurous round at Quail Hollow on Saturday.
The South African birdied three of his first five holes, then closed out the front nine with two more on putts of 7 and 30 feet to turn in 31. Sabbatini promptly gave those back at the 11th and 12th holes, though -- three-putting the first and failing to get up and down from in front of the green on the second.
Sabbatini didn’t need his flat stick on the 14th or 16th holes. He chipped in for birdie at the first of the two par 4s, then holed his approach from 173 yards for eagle at No. 16.
So Sabbatini, who won The Honda Classic earlier this year, is back at 7 under for the tournament and tied for ninth. He’s 6 under for his round with two holes remaining.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM Managing Editor
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The Official World Golf Ranking is top-heavy with European players, but Rory Sabbatini thinks the South Africans will make some noise this week at Augusta National.
In fact, they already have, with Retief Goosen starting his round with an eagle on the par-4 first hole. Goosen is now 4 under through five holes and tied for the early lead with England’s Ross Fisher.
There are seven South Africans in the field this week -- Goosen, Sabbatini, Tim Clark, Ernie Els, Trevor Immelman, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel. Immelman, the 2008 Masters champ, is the last South African to win at Augusta National.
Fifty years ago, Gary Player won the first of his three Green Jackets. He and Immelman remain the country's only two Masters winners, although Els, Clark and Goosen each have produced second-place finishes since 2004.
Asked about his country's chances, Sabbatini replied: "Obviously I think it's strong as always. You got Ernie, Retief, Louis, Charl, obviously Tim's having trouble with his wrist, so he's a little unsure, but I think it's looking really good this year."
Oosthuizen ran away with the British Open last year at St. Andrews. Schwartzel won on the European Tour earlier this year and Sabbatini won The Honda Classic a month ago.
Those three seem to be the most in-form of the South Africans, but don’t forget about Els. In 17 previous Masters starts, Els has six top-10 finishes and has twice finished second. The last time was 2004; since then, however, he has missed three cuts and not been in contention the other two times. This year, he has struggled with his putting.
"I would say you have to favor especially the longer hitters, so I think that me, Ernie, and Charl are the three longer South Africans," Sabbatini said. "I definitely think Charl with his mental aspect of the game is phenomenal and I see Louis just has a good all-around game.
"And we'll all know Ernie's record here, so it would be nice to see him come through and get himself a Green Jacket."
Oosthuizen's win last year at St. Andrews gave a nice jolt to South African golf. Sabbatini would love to see the major momentum continue for his country.
"I definitely think it was fantastic for South African golf," he said. "... There's waves that have come through and Charl and Louis seem to be that next wave."
FOLLOW THE SOUTH AFRICANS
|TIM CLARK||Click for Masters scorecard|
|ERNIE ELS||Click for Masters scorecard|
|RETIEF GOOSEN||Click for Masters scorecard|
|TREVOR IMMELMAN||Click for Masters scorecard|
|LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN||Click for Masters scorecard|
|RORY SABBATINI||Click for Masters scorecard|
|CHARL SCHWARTZEL||Click for Masters scorecard|
Rory Sabbatini had a very real shot at securing his second win in the Florida Swing ... but he damaged his hopes at the watery 13th at Copperhead. The 13th is the shortest par-3 on the course at 175 yards, but swirling winds and a pin cut on the back right are making the hole play tougher today.
Sabbatini got to the 13th tee box in 5 under for the day and 8 under for the week, but he drowned his tee shot and took a double bogey.
More evidence Sunday is going to be a real barn-burner: Despite the double bogey, Sabbatini is still only three shots back in a tie for 23rd.
Rory Sabbatini didn't qualify for the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions. He won't have that problem next year -- he won The Honda Classic two weeks ago. Where's all this leading to? Since the PGA TOUR season opener, Sabbatini has played 10 events in a row.
That may not sound like much for the average golf fan, but consider this: Six in a row is considered excessive. Eight in a row is madness. Sabbatini hasn't had a break since January, and here's the kicker: He's only missed two cuts. That means he's played in 34 of 37 possible rounds (the Bob Hope Classic has a cut after 72 holes).
"This is definitely the first time in my career on TOUR that [I've played 10 consecutive weeks]. I think my rookie year, if I had the opportunity, I probably would have done it," Sabbatini said. "But this is the first time I've ever done that, so all in all, the body is holding up; the brain is holding up. That was the bigger question; how would my nerves be [after] ten weeks on the road."
Sabbatini had planned an ambitious schedule for 2011 -- with a twist.
"My wife made me promise her that when I won, I'd take some time off," Sabbatini said earlier this month.
Sabbatini's win at PGA National got him into the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, where he tied for 28th. He had already committed to the Transitions Championship.
It also looks like he will be around this weekend, too. Sabbatini fired a 67 on Thursday in the opening round at Copperhead, giving him a real shot at winning twice on the Florida Swing.