Rory Sabbatini showed an ice-cool temperament to emerge victorious from an illustrious three-way play-off at the Crowne Plaza International containing double Masters champion Bernhard Langer and world number three Jim Furyk.
The South African (pictured) rolled in a 15ft birdie putt at the first play-off hole and then watched in delight as Langer?s 8ft effort rolled agonisingly wide to hand him his fourth PGA Tour title.
The trio had started the day tied for the lead with American Scott Verplank but the Ryder Cup star found it tough going on the front nine and by the turn it was down to a three-way shootout. Langer, whose last victory on American soil came at the 1993 Masters, led by two with nine holes to play. However, the leaderboard bunched up quickly as Sabbatini birdied the 11th and Langer bogeyed the 12th. The trio swapped birdies and bogeys down the stretch and were inseparable after 72 holes.
They headed back to the 18th tee and a bad drive by Furyk left just Langer and Sabbatini to fight it out. An 8-iron to 15ft from the South African was bettered by Langer but things turned around on the green and Sabbatini emerged triumphant.
The win caps a remarkable year so far for Sabbatini who finished tied for second at the Masters in April following two thirds on the US PGA Tour. Known as an outspoken player, Sabbatini has not been shy in stating his ambitions for the year, telling his wife: ?By the end of the year I’m going to be top 10 in the World Rankings and I am not going to let anything stop me. My goal next year is probably to get to number one.?
For Langer, who turns 50 in August and was playing on a sponsor?s exemption, it was mixed feelings. ?I?m disappointed I didn?t win but at the same time I?m encouraged with my game, it?s the best I?ve played for a long time,? he said.
Crowne Plaza International
-14 Rory Sabbatini (SA), Jim Furyk (USA), Bernhard Langer (GER)
-12 Pat Perez (USA)
-11 Nathan Green (AUS)
Sabbatini wins at first play-off hole