Take that Tiger! Sabbatini wins again

Take that Tiger! Sabbatini wins again

This was Rory Sabbatini's fourth career PGA Tour victory.
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Rory Sabbatini had to settle for beating the No. 3 player in the world and a two-time Masters champion. As usual, Tiger Woods wasn’t at Colonial.

Sabbatini made a 15-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole at the Crowne Plaza Invitational to beat Jim Furyk and Bernhard Langer, then jokingly referred to an earlier verbal spat with the top-ranked player.

Asked about the large skull and wings belt buckle he wore Sunday, Sabbatini said it was the same one he had on during the final round at Wachovia.

“I got all the jinx off that week,” said Sabbatini, who had a one-shot lead last month before closing with a 74 playing in the final group with Woods.

Colonial was the fourth career PGA Tour victory for Sabbatini, the 31-year-old South African who won the Nissan Open last year and earlier this season had consecutive top-three finishes at the Masters, EDS Byron Nelson Championship and Wachovia.

Sabbatini had said last month that he wanted to be in the final pairing with Woods to prove his victory last year – when Woods withdrew with the flu – wasn’t a fluke.

Then at The Players Championship, Sabbatini said Woods looked “as beatable as ever.”

But Sabbatini still doesn’t understand all the fuss, saying that he only meant that he wanted to compete with the No. 1 player in the world.

“I was getting frustrated earlier this year, playing well and I didn’t feel like anything was happening,” Sabbatini said after winning Colonial. “I told my wife, by the end of the year I’m going to be top 10 in the world rankings, and I’m not going to let anything stop me. My goal next year is to probably try to get to No. 1.”

After beginning the final round at Colonial tied at 11 under, Sabbatini, Furyk and the 49-year-old Langer closed with matching 3-under 67s to finish at 14 under.

All three hit their playoff drives into the fairway on the 433-yard 18th. Their approach shots all landed safely on the green.

Furyk, the only of the top 12 players in the world ranking at Colonial, missed his 34-foot putt. Sabbatini then made his putt before Langer, with the shortest putt and a chance to force another hole, pushed an 8-footer to the right.

“I knew I had to make it. I wasn’t planning on lagging it,” Langer said. “I’m disappointed I didn’t win, but at the same time I’m encouraged with my game.”

It was the first three-man playoff ever at the Colonial, which hadn’t needed extra holes since 1994 before Tim Herron won a two-hole playoff last year with Richard S. Johnson.

Woods had won the last three-man playoff on the PGA Tour, beating Nathan Green and Jose Maria Olazabal at the Buick Invitational in January 2006.

Sabbatini finished the rain-delayed third round early Sunday with a 62, missing the tournament record by a stroke when his 8-foot birdie attempt scooted just left on No. 9, the last hole he played in the third round.

Pat Perez (66) finished fourth at 12-under 268, and Green (66) and Tom Lehman (68) were another stroke back.

Scott Verplank also was tied for the lead going into the final round in his attempt to become the only player other than Ben Hogan to win Colonial and the Byron Nelson Championship in the same year. He closed with a 71 to tie for seventh.

Sabbatini got to 14 under when he made a 28-foot birdie at the 171-yard 13th, but there were plenty of other shots that almost went in during the final round.

At No. 9 for the second time Sunday, Sabbatini’s 22-foot birdie attempt stopped just an inch short of going in. Out of a greenside bunker at the 611-yard 11th hole, he blasted his shot within 6 inches and had to settle for a tap-in birdie.

Sabbatini escaped trouble at No. 17 when hit his approach shot out of the thick rough onto the green for a two-putt par. On the final hole of regulation, he had a 19-foot birdie putt that curled away from the hole at the last second.

Now he gets a much-needed break, staying home in nearby Southlake instead of going to play in the Memorial. He had withdrawn from that tournament even before winning Colonial, his fifth straight week playing. His next event will be the U.S. Open – and another chance to go against Woods, whose only Colonial appearance came in 1997.

Furyk got his first top-10 finish since three consecutive tournaments before the end of February. He tied for 13th at the Masters, but hasn’t been better than 28th in any other tournament since, which allowed Phil Mickelson to leapfrog him in the world ranking after Mickelson won The Players Championship.

Langer, who had only one bogey in the 29 holes in regulation he played Sunday, regained a share of the lead when he hit his approach at the 382-yard 17th hole within 4 feet for a birdie.

His drive to the right at No. 18 then wound up in a tromped-down area of mud, though he got relief. His approach was still short of the green, but he saved par after his chip rolled within 3 feet of the cup.

Langer was trying to add the plaid jacket to the two green ones he won a long time ago. He hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since getting his second green jacket at Augusta in 1993, eight years after his first.

An eagle and three birdies in a late four-hole stretch at the end of his third round got him to the top of the leaderboard.

“I can’t remember all that,” he said. “It’s a lot to go through.”

Divots: David Toms got to 10 under when he had six straight birdies to matching the longest streak on the PGA Tour this season – set by Anthony Kim in the first round. But those were the only birdies for Toms. … Tim Petrovic started the fourth round with three straight birdie putts of 26-29 feet. He went on to a round of 66 to tie for 12th at 271. He hadn’t finished better than 23rd his first 14 tournaments. … Herron was at 4-under 276 after weekend rounds of 70 and 71. … Rod Pampling had a hole-in-one, using a 6-iron at the 189-yard 16th.

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