South Africa’s Rory Sabbatini survived a last round charge by Y.E. Yang of Korea to hold on for victory at The Honda Classic in Florida.
Sabbatini started the final round five shots clear of the field and he maintained that advantage through the first eight holes. But Yang made birdies at the 12th and 14th and Sabbatini made bogeys at the ninth and 14th meaning the lead was down to just one coming to the PGA National Course’s famous closing stretch – “The Bear Trap.”
The South African stayed calm though and he extended his lead to two with an excellent birdie on the difficult 16th. He then stood on the treacherous par-3 17th tee and found the heart of the green before a siren sounded to signal a halt in play because of lightning in the area.
Play was delayed for 30 minutes and, when it resumed, Sabbatini secured his par then did the same on the 18th. Although Yang made a birdie on the final hole to post a closing 66, Sabbatini won by a stroke.
“Luckily I had enough of a cushion that I didn’t get too concerned,” Sabbatini said. “I knew going into today that if I shot even par, it was going to be tough to catch.”
Yang finished alone in second and was happy that the right man had won.
“He seemed really calm,” said Yang. “I commend him for being, I guess, so emotionally stable. I wasn’t.”
Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell posted a course record-equalling 64 to move through the field and finish the week in a tie for sixth. It was a great confidence booster going into next week’s WGC – Cadillac Championship.
The Honda Classic
PGA National Champion Course, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Mar 3-6, purse $5,700,000, par 70
1 Rory Sabbatini (RSA) 71 64 66 70 271 $1,026,000
2 Y.E. Yang (Kor) 68 71 67 66 272 $615,600
3 Jerry Kelly (USA) 71 67 68 67 273 $387,600
4 Ricky Barnes (USA) 70 68 71 67 276 $273,600
5 Tommy Gainey (USA) 71 67 71 68 277 $228,000
T6 Matt Bettencourt (USA) 70 70 69 69 278 $184,537
T6 Graeme McDowell (NIR) 73 71 70 64 278 $184,537
T6 Jeff Overton (USA) 69 72 69 68 278 $184,537
T6 Gary Woodland (USA) 71 68 68 71 278 $184,537
Note: Player in bold signifies Titleist ball usage only
Centenary: Play in the Golf Monthly Centenary days