2003:Sabbatini stares down second career victory at FBR

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Potomac, Md.

To Rory Sabbatini, his second PGA Tour victory was much more difficult than his first. To everyone else, he made it look pretty easy.

Sabbatini shot a 3-under-par 68 June 9 and never trailed in the final round, capturing the rain-delayed FBR Capital Open by four shots with a 14-under 270 total on the par-71 TPC at Avenel course. He was the only player to shoot in the 60s all four rounds.

Sabbatini’s first PGA Tour victory was the 2000 Air Canada Championship, when he was only 24 years old.

A day earlier, he had said that winning for the second time on Tour was more difficult because of the self-induced pressure to repeat.

“I say it’s harder the second time,” said Sabbatini. “Mentally, you go ‘OK, I’ve done this, let’s go out there again.’ And you try to repeat, and in some sense you’re actually putting more pressure on yourself.

“It’s very rare that someone’s going to go out there and win their first one and then start having strings of wins. Unless you’re Tiger, of course.”

Sabbatini used a chip-in for eagle from 60 feet at the par-5 13th to swing the momentum back to his side, and the South African held off Duffy Waldorf down the stretch.

“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.”

Waldorf, assessed a two-shot penalty after his round was over, shot 69. Waldorf was penalized for a violation of Rule 13-2, 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 at 10-under 274.

An 18-hole Monday finish was needed after rain washed out play Saturday, leaving the course so soaked that a 36-hole Sunday finish wasn’t 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 Monday so players could finish and get to Olympia Fields near Chicago for the 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 share of dicey moments, however, and more than anything, he owes his victory 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 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 Niclas Fasth. Sabbatini quickly decided on his clubs and went ahead and took his shots; Fasth double- and triple-checked 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.

– Staff and wire reports

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