Though he really hadn't done a whole lot to give shots away during Sunday's tour of PGA National, there was a moment when Rory Sabbatini had to admit that it no longer was a casual stroll.
Thanks to some precision ballstriking from Y.E. Yang, a five-shot Honda Classic cushion had been trimmed to one. Two holes of the notorious Bear Trap lay before them.
Time for a little counteroffensive.
“After 15, I realized that, ‘Hey, I need to maybe put a little pressure back on him,’ ” Sabbatini said.
Two solid strikes at the par-4 16th set up a 15-foot birdie, restoring a two-shot edge. A storm-interrupted par at No. 17 followed, allowing him the breathing room to withstand Yang’s desperate eagle try at the final hole in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
“It definitely caused some stress for me,” said Sabbatini, whose even-par 70 netted his sixth PGA Tour trophy.
The South African finished at 9-under-par 271.
Yang was one shot back after failing to hole a bunker blast at No. 18 that would have forced a playoff. He wound up with a birdie and a closing 66. Jerry Kelly (67) was another stroke back in third, three shots clear of the next-closest pursuit.
“Rory saved the pars early, and he really didn’t get himself into too much trouble late,” Kelly said. “He did what he had to do to hold us off.”
Gig Harbor’s Kyle Stanley, a PGA Tour rookie who held the lead after two rounds, had a difficult final round with five bogeys and a triple. But he finished with a 10-foot putt for eagle and a 5-over 75. He won $47,310.
Give Yang credit for making Sabbatini work for it. After a bogey at No. 2, the former PGA Championship winner countered with four birdies, turning up the heat at Nos. 13 and 15.
The Korean stuck his approach shot at No. 13 to 3 feet for an easy birdie. Then as they entered the Bear Trap, a sweet 7-iron came to rest 18 inches from the hole.
“Rory had the upper hand,” Yang said. “I think he played an outstanding game, and that last birdie by him was huge.”
The LPGA Tour signed a three-year deal to make CME Group the title sponsor of its season-ending Titleholders tournament in Florida. The Titleholders is the new name for the Tour Championship, to be played Nov. 17-20 in Orlando. Brenden Pappas won the Bogota (Colombia) Open when lightning wiped out the third round, reducing the Nationwide Tour event to 36 holes. The 40-year-old South African had rounds of 67 and 66 to finish at 9-under 133 at Bogota Country Club.