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.
DORAL, Fla. – Play has hust been suspended due to darkness. Players had the option to finish the hole they are playing, though.
The first round will resume at 8:30 a.m. ET. The second round will begin as scheduled at 11:20 a.m.
Rory Sabbatini, who won last week’s Honda Classic, was one of those who will get to sleep in on Friday morning.
Knowing the horn was about to sound, he ran to No. 9 – his final hole of the day – and teed off so he and his playing partners could finish if they wanted. He high-fived some volunteers after he hit his tee shot on the par 3, then ended up two-putting for par and a 74.
|Name||FEC Rank||Points||2010 Rank||2010 Points|
● DIFFERENT CONDITIONS, DIFFERENT PUTTER: With the move to the Florida Swing -- and Bermudagrass -- a couple of weeks ago, Ian Poulter decided to change his putter, moving from a Rife putter to a Scotty Cameron, which he'll continue to use this week at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.
"I just fancied a change," Poulter said. "From time to time you just need to change."
The major difference between the Scotty Cameron and the Rife putter is that the Cameron has tiny grooves on the face and the ball comes off the club faster than the Rife -- something that's important on greens rolling at only a 10 1/2 or 11 on the Stimpmeter at TPC Blue Monster at Doral.
"It feels like it's rolling pretty good," Poulter said. "It's just different so I have to get used to it. I'll give it a couple of weeks." -- Brian Wacker
● MAGIC WAND: Rory Sabbatini beamed about his new TaylorMade Ghost 770 putter after winning The Honda Classic. Sounds like it will be as much of a fixture as his new wide-brimmed hats going forward.
“You know, it's actually quite bizarre. I've never quite had as much confidence in a new putter as I have in this one. After picking it up last week down in México and hitting a few putts with it, right away it just felt amazing to me,” said Sabbatini, who ranked T2 in putts per round at PGA National.
“Was doing a little bit of work with it during the week, but obviously not using it during the tournament; and then getting here this week and doing some practice with it, it really just felt phenomenal. I can honestly say I think it was probably one of the smartest decisions I've ever made in my golf game.”
As for how the putter arrived in time for the Honda, that’s a story in itself. Check it out here.
● BACK-TO-BACK: Not only did TaylorMade score with Sabbatini’s putter saga, it also got a second consecutive TOUR win with the R11 white driver.
● DELOFTING: Last week’s high winds at PGA National meant some one-off changes in bags, including Stuart Appleby using a Callaway RAZR Hawk driver with 7.5 degrees of loft, lower than his usual. He finished in a tie for 10th.
● UPGRADE: As David Dusek wrote on Golf.com, Zach Johnson has the new Titleist ProV1x in his bag this week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. He had been using the 2009 model.
● FREE STUFF? MAYBE: Remember last year when Callaway ran a promotion where buyers of a new Callaway driver could get it free if Phil Mickelson won the Masters? Srixon is getting into the act this year with a golf ball giveaway centered around Graeme McDowell’s chances at Augusta National. Read about it here.
Of course you might recall that Mickelson did win at Augusta, and consequently Callaway ended up giving away more than a million bucks’ worth of drivers. –John Schwarb
DORAL, Fla. -- If not for his win at last week’s Honda Classic, Rory Sabbatini wouldn’t be in the field at this week’s World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship. And if not for the efforts of TaylorMade PGA TOUR rep, Dave Williams, Sabbatini might not have won at PGA National.
Here’s why. After Sabbatini tinkering with a putter he was trying out in Mexico two weeks ago, he asked TaylorMade to make some adjustments (length, swing weight, loft, etc.) to it. They did, but bad weather in Memphis, delayed its arrival from Carlsbad, Calif., to PGA National.
FedEx told Williams it would arrive Wednesday morning but when he saw it wasn’t there by 8:30 he got worried.
“I still didn’t see anything so I called and they said it’s at [a nearby] distribution center but it’s on a truck,” Williams said. “I told them I needed this and begged her and said how important it was, so they said they’d see if they could get it pulled.”
After about 30 minutes they found the package. The only problem was that it was addressed to Paul Loegering, TaylorMade’s PGA TOUR manager and essentially Williams’ boss. Loegering couldn’t leave the course, however, so Williams hopped in the car armed with a business card from Loegering and drove to the facility.
Once there, though, FedEx wouldn’t release the package because it was in Loegering’s name -- not Williams’ -- so they had to call Loegering to verify.
Williams then drove back to the course and got it to Sabbatini about an hour before his pro-am tee time and in plenty of time for him to get the necessary reps with it.
“I guess it was meant to be that I was going to use the putter last week,” Sabbatini said. “That’s the type of service TaylorMade provides. They go above and beyond.”
Sabbatini, of course, then went on to win and became the last player to get in the field this week at TPC Blue Monster at Doral.
As for the putter, it’s a Ghost 770 with a single bend shaft that’s face balanced. It also has a Pure Roll insert and zero sightlines -- all changes from the previous model he was using, which was a toe-weighted model with a different shaft and face. And, yes, it’s in the bag for this week. -- Brian Wacker