PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The winds continued to whip and balls found water hazards at every turn of the head Friday at PGA National. Not that Rory Sabbatini seemed to mind. The South African made seven birdies in a round of 6-under 64 that pushed him to 5 under, one shot back of the halfway lead at the Honda Classic.
While that was one storyline from windy PGA National, here are five others to keep an eye on.
1.) Victory salute?
No, not really, but with arms raised and a wide smile on his face, Nick Price marched from the green at his final hole, the ninth. While it didn’t look like he had won one of those three major championships from years ago, it sure looked like he was happy.
And why not? He had put together rounds of 70-74 to finish 36 holes at 4 over.
“I made the cut,” Price said to a small group of reporters who were there for one reason – the man is a veritable treasure when it comes to thoughtful answers to all questions golf.
At 54, Price is hand-picking those PGA Tour events in which he’ll compete, fully conceding that he’s a Champions Tour guy through and through. Answering questions that ranged from today’s power game, to a future U.S. Open venue (Merion) that he loves, to the glory of links golf, to the transition from the PGA Tour to the Champions Tour, Price provided priceless comments with a heartfelt tone.
But he saved his greatest compassion for something that very well could come to be: The demise of a PGA Tour stop at Hilton Head Island’s famed Harbour Town Golf Links, where he won in 1997.
“Isn’t that sad,” Price said. “I always thought it was one of our great tournaments outside of the majors. And to lose that?” He shook his head.
“And I blame the top players – and you know who I’m talking about.”
2.) Nothing goes right for lefthander
As in Mike Weir, who is light years from the form that won him the 2003 Masters.
Fighting to come back from an elbow injury that derailed him in 2010, Weir started poorly and finished even worse, as rounds of 77-85 left him outside the cut for the fourth time in five starts.
Weir’s second round included a triple bogey, four doubles, and four bogeys and for two days he was over par on 18 of his 36 holes.
Given that he only had five tournaments on his major medical extension, Weir now falls into Category 28 for non-exempt players, and getting into tournaments will be even more difficult.
3.) Where did that come from?
Yes, PGA National played easier on Friday, one and half strokes easier, but it wasn’t the pussycat that Rory Sabbatini made it look like. Seven birdies and only one bogey and the South African pranced to a 64 over the Golden Bears design.
“I wasn’t exactly looking forward to getting out there today,” Sabbatini said. “I knew the conditions were going to be tough and they were expecting maybe even a little tougher than yesterday. You know, crazy things happen.
“Put the ball in the right spots a few times and make a couple of putts, and all of a sudden you stop worrying about everything and you just start trying to make some more birdies.”
4.) If at first you don’t succeed. . .
Jesper Parnevik debuted a new belly putter this week at Honda. Probably not the best place to bring the broomstick as the wind was brutal on Thursday and just a little more manageable on Friday. A total of 64 putts, 34 coming on Friday, Parnevik realized he made a big mistake. So he decided on the 18th hole to use his 3-wood instead with an 8 footer for birdie at stake. Of course he drained it. When asked why he didn’t used the belly putter “Because I didn’t want it to have a chance to get in the bag next week.”
5.) Down the Road
The surprise players who will be leaving early after missing the cut: Robert Karlsson, Mayakoba winner Johnson Wagner, Anthony Kim, Rickie Fowler, Vijay Singh, Tom Gillis, Camillo Villegas and Adam Scott.