Bridgestone Invitational round two: Sabbatini knows how to stay low
You know what they say about when the going gets tough. Maybe it wasn’t such a surprise to see Rory Sabbatini and Zach Johnson push the pace on a day that played on average almost a stroke harder than Thursday. But Davis Love III’s 5 under is almost as much of a revelation as Stewart Cink’s 9 over was the day before.
Love has missed his last four cuts and hasn’t had a top 20 since March. His reaction to the round sounded a lot like Hunter Mahan’s the day before, and Phil Mickelson, and … in fact there was almost a choir lamenting the fine mental line between success and failure.
Enter Tiger Woods, who actually triumphed with his irons Friday, only to see his putter go awol. Given that the best he’s done so far is two under on a course that’s getting harder by the hour, a deficit of 4 is looking mighty big.
Interesting to see Love flanked by two other players who seem to be resurrecting their careers, Chris DiMarco and Lee Westwood. The latter looks to be getting over a recent spell of knee trouble and may at last be honing himself into a serious fighting force again. But all three are going to rue a 5-shot deficit in what are becoming serious US Open-style conditions.
Sabbatini could come back to them of course, but he clearly holds the aces. He put it at evens that he could win with two par rounds from here and if anyone can keep shooting low he can. He hasn’t done four rounds in the 60s this season, but he’s only missed by a single shot twice - at the Colonial and Byron Nelson - and both times it was in the first round.
The real winner this weekend will probably bear the name Patience and if Sabbatini slips the man who has that as his middle name in Johnson. But Tiger now faces a true test of his mettle and Scott Verplank is currently playing out of his socks. If the leadership did falter down the home stretch there’s a host of other good golfers queueing up to take advantage. Don’t even rule out Mahan. He slumped in the second round in Canada last week too, but was still a serious contender on the Sunday.
Meanwhile over in Reno: the sudden emergence of Charles Warren with a 9-under round Friday was a bit of a shock to the system. But having done just the same the day before Steve Flesch was able to keep him at bay. What sets the two leaders apart from the rest is that they’re top of the class for hitting greens.
But the one that’s really impressing at this stage is rookie Brendon de Jonge (good grief, these names don’t get any easier do they?). He’s been finding the season a real struggle so far, yet here he’s top 20 in virtually every department. Maybe he’s another one who needs to win the mental battle rather than the physical one to break through.
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