Sabbatini leads Memorial field by one


DUBLIN, Ohio – In the waning daylight at Muirfield Village GC on Friday evening, Rory Sabbatini stood out in more ways than one.

Sporting bright green pants and his now-trademark straw cowboy hat, Sabbatini shot a second consecutive 3-under 69 to take the halfway lead at the Memorial Tournament.

The South African bogeyed the first hole, but turned in even. He made three birdies coming in to take the lead alone by a shot over Tiger Woods, Scott Stallings and Spencer Levin.

'Obviously it's been a trying year, and obviously it's great to see some return on the effort I've been putting in,' he said. 'So that feels fantastic.'

Sabbatini made a change in coaches earlier this year, moving to Rick Smith. At the beginning of May, Sabbatini said he was moving to the second stage of their work together. Taking the halfway lead at Jack Nicklaus' tournament may be indicative of another milestone.

Memorial is the last in a month-long stretch of events Sabbatini has typically done well. He has four consecutive top-20 finishes here and is in position for a fifth. Looking ahead to a seventh PGA Tour win this weekend will be difficult.

'That's definitely a battle, having better patience and understanding it's going to take some time, and allowing yourself that time,' he said in an interview last month.

Despite the blustery conditions which prevailed on Friday, Sabbatini whimsically set the bar even lower for the third round.

'I always say let's shoot seven shots better on Saturday than I do on Friday,' he said, 'so I'll take that.'