Crowne Plaza Invitational round four: Sabbatini's Masterful victory
Here’s something you might like to tuck away for next year. It is a fact I spotted on one of the betting forums last week, unearthed by someone who obviously has far too much time on their hands: for the last five years at least the winner of the Colonial has finished top 40 at the preceding Masters.
There’s surely something in it: by my count there were 18 Masters top 40 players (including ties) in this year’s Colonial. One was the winner Rory Sabbatini, another playoff loser Jim Furyk, five more in the top 20, and only one missed the cut - Tom Pernice Jr. The point was made that the two events have similarities, not least Bermuda fairways and bentgrass greens, although I think Colonial was somewhat soggier.
Of course, had Bernhard Langer not fluffed that final pressure putt the stat might have looked a little less shiny, but still interesting enough to yield a profit for enterprising punters.
Perhaps not as much profit, though, as was had by the fortunate soul - I assume there was just one - who managed to get £4 on Sabbatini at odds of 1,000 after round two. Seems a layer took the view that eight shots or so off the lead at that stage was curtains. There were similar odds available on a number of other subsequent high fliers like David Toms and Stewart Cink. Nice to know there are such generous souls about.
It’s also nice to know what Sabbatini can do when he keeps his mouth shut. In a sense Sabbs won despite himself. He was never able to make much more than half the fairways he aimed at on a course that severely punished wayward driving. The stats clearly show the close relationship between avoiding the thick and very wet rough and getting onto greens in regulation and Sabbatini was no exception. What rescued him was some extremely sharp putting, no more so than the winner on the first playoff hole from 15ft.
Furyk was unlucky considering the almost all-round strength of his game. But although he was second for putts per GIR his flat stick let him down at vital moments, again no more so than in the playoff. But good to see him back at near his best after some problematic weeks.
As for Langer, I’m surely not alone in regretting he ended up a loser. With four top tens already this season this is one ‘old geezer’ who’s far from finished.
My only other thought is: weathermen - what are they for? They couldn’t have got Sunday more horribly wrong.
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