Sabbatini Makes Final Push Before Break

By Associated PressMay 23, 2007, 4:00 pm
Crowne Plaza Invitational at ColonialFORT WORTH, Texas -- Rory Sabbatini knows he will need to take a break to avoid becoming fatigued and frustrated.
 
Since his impressive streak of three straight top-3 finishes that included the Masters and Wachovia, Sabbatini has started to feel the effects of playing so much.
 
'Actually, everything still is really good,' Sabbatini said Wednesday. 'Last week, I kind of felt my body at the end of the week and just wasn't able to keep myself mentally focused. That's just wear and tear from playing a couple of events in a row.'
 
Still, time off will have to wait until after the Colonial, his fifth straight tournament -- and one not far from his home in Southlake.
 
'I look forward to it every year. It's a great event,' Sabbatini said. 'There is obviously a great tradition behind it.'
 
Sabbatini didn't skip Hogan's Alley, where the course itself is one of the biggest parts of the tradition. He has already withdrawn from next week's Memorial, another tournament he has always enjoyed, but knows he needs a breather before the U.S. Open next month.
 
But a lot of other top players are skipping the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, which begins Thursday.
 
Only two players in the Colonial field are higher in the world ranking than 16th-ranked Sabbatini. They are Jim Furyk, now third after Phil Mickelson took over the No. 2 spot last week, and No. 14 Trevor Immelman.
 
Mickelson and Sergio Garcia are among former Colonial winners not playing, but defending champion Tim Herron is back, along with two-time winners Kenny Perry and Corey Pavin.
 
Furyk said Colonial is 'probably my favorite course to play and probably my favorite tournament' even though he has only four top-10 finishes in 11 Colonial appearances.
 
While length is a premium at so many modern-day layouts, the old-style par-70, 7,054-yard tree-lined Colonial course is pretty much the same as it was when Ben Hogan won there five times from 1946-59.
 
The only three top-10s for Furyk this season came in consecutive tournaments before the end of February. He was 13th at the Masters, but hasn't been better than 28th in any other tournament since, allowing Mickelson to leapfrog him in the world ranking after Mickelson won THE PLAYERS Championship.
 
'I wish I was playing great golf and he was just playing better,' Furyk said. 'He has been playing great golf and my game has been only mediocre the last couple of months. ... I just haven't been doing the things that I needed to do to score well.'
 
Sabbatini tied for third at the Wachovia Championship despite a closing 74, which came a day after he matched the course record of 64 and said how much he wanted to play in the final group with Tiger Woods. Sabbatini was 44th at The Players Championship and closed with a 73 at last week's AT&T Classic to tie for 24th.
 
'I could tell my body was getting a little tired,' he said. 'I felt good going into the last two weeks, but just haven't felt that same ability to be able to maintain my focus throughout the rounds.'
 
After getting home from Georgia, Sabbatini didn't hit a golf ball until playing in the pro-am event Wednesday. He spent Tuesday driving a stock car 160 mph during a NASCAR driving school at Texas Motor Speedway.
 
This is Sabbatini's 15th tournament this season. He has made 11 cuts with four top-10 finishes (only one fewer than last season) and is 13th on the money list with $1.7 million.
 
The youngest player on the PGA TOUR when he was a 22-year-old rookie in 1999, Sabbatini is now a veteran who knows when he can't keep pushing himself to play.
 
'That's definitely getting to know my body better and realizing that being worn out and fatigued and getting frustrated is not exactly beneficial to me,' the South African said.
 
Herron, who beat Richard Johnson in a two-hole playoff last year, is defending a title for the first time since the 1999 Bay Hill Invitational. But the husky golfer known as 'Lumpy' who is popular among his peers and the fans isn't exactly playing top-notch golf.
 
In 26 tournaments since winning Colonial for his fourth career victory, Herron has no top-10 finishes and has been better than 31st only three times -- the last time when he was 19th in the season opener this year.
 
'I don't know if I'm completely prepared to defend,' Herron said. 'I've struggled since probably last year's Colonial. But you know what, before I won Colonial last year, I was struggling. So you just never know in golf.'
 
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    Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 9:20 am

    Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.


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    McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

    By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

    McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

    But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

    Said Harmon:

    “Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.


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    “He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

    “This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

    McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

    “Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

    McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

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    How The Open cut line is determined

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

    Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

    The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:


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    • After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

    • There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

    • There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

    The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

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    The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 am

    Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

    What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

    What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

    How old is it?

    It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

    Where is it played?

    There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

    Where will it be played this year?

    At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

    Who has won The Open on that course?

    Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

    Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

    Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

    Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

    This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

    Who has won this event the most?

    Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

    What about the Morrises?

    Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

    Have players from any particular country dominated?

    In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

    Who is this year's defending champion?

    That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

    What is the trophy called?

    The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

    Which Opens have been the most memorable?

    Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

    When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

    Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.