Sabbatini Capitalizes on Way to Open

By Associated PressJune 9, 2003, 4:00 pm
POTOMAC, Md. (AP) -- Rory Sabbatini's second PGA Tour victory was a chip shot.
 
Actually several of them, but none bigger than the one that found the hole from 60 feet at the par-5 13th. The eagle swung the momentum back to the South African, and he held off Duffy Waldorf on Monday to win the FBR Capital Open.
 
'I hit a great chip, and it worked absolutely perfect,' Sabbatini said. 'It's not often you can hit shots like that, that come off like you want and react like you want. That was definitely a big confidence booster, and that kind of settled me down a little bit.'
 
Sabbatini shot a 68 to finish with a 14-under-par 270 on the par-71 TPC at Avenel course. He was the only player to shoot in the 60s all four rounds.
 
Waldorf, assessed a two-shot penalty after his round was over, shot a 69 to finish at 274. Waldorf was penalized for using his club to pat down a rough area in front of his ball before taking his second shot at the 12th hole.
 
The gaffe cost Waldorf sole possession of second place. He finished tied with Joe Durant and Fred Funk, all four shots behind Sabbatini.
 
Sabbatini's first tour win was the 2000 Air Canada Championship, when he was just 24 years old. He said Sunday that winning for the second time on the tour was harder because of the self-induced pressure to repeat.
 
The 18-hole Monday finish was needed after rain washed out play Saturday, leaving the course so waterlogged that a 36-hole Sunday finish was not feasible.
 
'It's been a long time since I've had this feeling,' Sabbatini said. 'It's great to finally get that second win. It's been really a roller-coaster ride with the whole week.'
 
Play began early so the players could finish and get to Olympia Fields near Chicago for the U.S. Open, which starts Thursday. The Capital Open was the first to be played the Monday before a major since the 1999 St. Jude Classic preceded that U.S. Open.
 
Sabbatini had been playing well in recent weeks, including a tie for fifth at the Colonial two weeks ago. His final round wasn't without its dicey moments, however, and he owes his victory more than anything to his ability to chip from greenside rough.
 
Sabbatini found the rough while approaching the third, eighth and 14th holes, but he didn't lose a shot. He tossed his club in frustration after an approach found the trap at No. 7, but he blasted within 4 feet of the pin to save par yet again.
 
Sabbatini's three bogeys came when he landed in the creek at the par-5 sixth, when he had two bunker shots at the par-3 17th, and when his tee shot landed in a trap at the par-4 18th.
 
Sabbatini's second shot at the 13th landed in the rough right of the green. Despite a bad lie, he chipped the ball neatly for a fine roll across the huge green and straight into the hole for an eagle.
 
That put Sabbatini at 14 under and gave him a four-stroke lead, but only temporarily. Waldorf, playing in the same group, sank a 15-foot eagle putt to reach 12 under.
 
Both players birdied the 15th hole. Sabbatini then doubled his lead at the 16th with a short birdie putt, while Waldorf bogeyed after landing an approach in a gully near a drainage grate.
 
The par-3 17th produced the opposite result. Waldorf birdied from 18 feet, while Sabbatini bogeyed after his bunker-to-bunker shot.
 
Sabbatini's drive landed in a trap at the 18th, but Waldorf landed in the rough. Both players bogeyed the hole.
 
The fast-playing Sabbatini also had his patience tested as he played in the final group with the slow-playing -- and thus inappropriately named -- Niclas Fasth. While Sabbatini would quickly decide on his clubs and go ahead and take his shots, Fasth would double- and triple-check his reads for 3-foot putts.
 
Fasth stayed close to the lead until a back-to-back double bogey-triple bogey collapse at Nos. 8 and 9. The Swede needed two chips to get the ball out of the green-side rough at the eighth. He then put his tee shot in the water at the par-3 ninth, took a drop beyond the cart path, chipped to the green and three-putted for a 6.
 
Padraig Harrington made an early charge with well-placed iron shots on the front nine. His 12-foot birdie putt at No. 7 moved him within one shot of the lead, but he bogeyed the eighth and double bogeyed the 10th to fall out of contention.
Divots: The course was still a bog in several places, particularly in the walkways from green to next tee. 'You could lose a shoe in there,' Sabbatini said as he avoided a mini-quagmire between Nos. 2 and 3. ... The lead group had unexpected company at the second hole when Patrick Sheehan badly hooked his tee shot at No. 6. The ball landed inside the ropes in the rough by the second fairway. ... David Duval set a course record with a 62 on Friday, but it was his only round in the 60s. He final scores were 74-62-73-74.
 

Related Links:
  • U.S. Open Mini Site
  • Full Coverage of the FBR Capital Open
  • Full Leaderboard
  • Bio: Rori Sabbatini
     

    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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