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
Two of the top five finishers at The Honda Classic -- winner Rory Sabbatini and Tommy Gainey, who claimed solo fifth -- were playing for the eighth consecutive week on the PGA TOUR.
They weren't alone. Among players who have earned FedExCup points, seven have played in every full-field event this season. Joining Sabbatini and Gainey are Spencer Levin, William McGirt, Jarrod Lyle, Chad Collins and Josh Teater.
Call them the Ironmen of 2011.
An eighth player, Matt Bettencourt, also has made eight starts. But unlike the other seven, he qualified for the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions in early January. Bettencourt took the week off two weeks ago before returning to play the Honda Classic.
Sabbatini said Sunday night after his one-stroke win at PGA National that he will actually be playing 10 consecutive weeks. He plans to play at this week's World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship and then the following week at the Transitions Championship.
"I think we might have to do a little conversing as to whether or not we are going to continue on to Bay Hill," he said. "My wife made me promise her that when I won, I'd take some time off."
Players usually don't play that many consecutive weeks for fear of getting worn out -- both physically and emotionally. But Sabbatini said he felt like his game was headed in the right direction and he wanted to continue building on the momentum rather than take a week off to rest.
"I felt like something good was going to happen," he said. "I guess if you flip a coin enough times, you are eventually going to end on the right side."
Gainey has two top-10 finishes in his last five starts and seems to be much closer in claiming the first TOUR win of his career. He was originally scheduled in the field at the Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com but withdrew late Monday morning.
Teater is scheduled to compete in Puerto Rico this week, leaving he and Sabbatini as the last Ironmen standing.
PLAYING EIGHT CONSECUTIVE WEEKS
These players have played every week on TOUR starting with the Sony Open in Hawaii, the first full-field event of 2011:
|Player||FedExCup rank||FedExCup points||Best finish in 2011|
|Rory Sabbatini||3||724||Winner, The Honda Classic|
|Spencer Levin||15||487||Playoff runner-up, Mayakoba Golf Classic|
|Tommy Gainey||34||268||Fifth, The Honda Classic|
|William McGirt||72||136||Tied for 19th, Mayakoba Golf Classic|
|Jarrod Lyle||75||132||Tied for fifth, Mayakoba Golf Classic|
|Chad Collins||142||50||Tied for 42nd, Mayakoba Golf Classic|
|Josh Teater||207||10||Tied for 63rd, Farmers Insurance Open|
Rory Sabbatini became the sixth international winner of The Honda Classic since 2005 -- Padraig Harrington (2005), Luke Donald (2006), Ernie Els (2008), Y.E. Yang (2009) and Camilo Villegas (2010) were the others.
He also jumped to third on the FedExCup points list with his win. The top 10 players on the points list as of March 7, if not otherwise eligible, will gain entry into next week’s World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship. As such, Sabbatini earns a berth in the event.
One of the key’s to Sabbatini’s victory was his ability to scramble. He missed 25 greens in regulation but converted on 21 of those to lead all players at 84 percent. Sabbatini also tied for second in putts per round with 27.0 and was a perfect 6-for-6 in sand saves.
Sabbatini’s victory also came in his first appearance in this tournament since 2004 when he finished in a tie for ninth when the event was staged at The Country Club at Mirasol.
There were some nervous moments for Rory Sabbatini on Sunday -- like when his five-shot lead was cut to one -- but in the end he hung on for his sixth career victory on the PGA TOUR, shooting a final-round 70 to win by one.
After making a bogey on the par-4 14th hole, Sabbatini bounced back with a birdie two holes later to extend the lead back to two following a birdie by Y.E. Yang on No. 15.
Sabbatini never let up after that, making par on the difficult par-3 17th and then par on the par-5 finishing hole. Yang added some pressure by making a birdie in front of Sabbatini on the 18th, but Sabbatini safely two-putted from just inside 12 feet.
Jerry Kelly, meanwhile, shot 67 to finish third.
Rory Sabbatini can breathe at least a little sigh of relief. After seeing his lead drop to just one following a bogey at No. 15, Sabbatini bounced back with a birdie on the par-4 16th, where he rolled in 16-footer to get back to 9 under. He now leads by two with two to play.
Y.E. Yang, who had moved to within one, is now two back after two-putting from just over 37 feet. Jerry Kelly dropped to four back after making a par of his own from a nearly identical distance.