After making consecutive birdies, Honda Classic leader Rory Sabbatini stood in the rough along the sixth fairway, complaining to a PGA Tour official about a delay in play and wondering what had become of the group just ahead of him.
The strange interruption could have halted Sabbatini’s momentum. Instead, after a long wait he hit an iron 200 yards to 10 feet of the pin, one of his better shots among the 66 Saturday that gave him a cushy lead in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Sabbatini enters today’s final round at 9-under 201, five shots ahead of Jerry Kelly and 2009 winner Y.E. Yang.
The wait at No. 6 occurred when Kelly, playing two groups ahead of Sabbatini, lodged a shot in a palm tree. A newspaper photographer’s zoom lens was used to identify the ball as Kelly’s, allowing him to avoid being penalized for a lost ball.
The inspection took time, so the twosome behind Kelly played through. Sabbatini and playing partner Kyle Stanley of Gig Harbor waited and wondered how they had caught up with Kelly.
“It was a little bit of dazed and confused,” Sabbatini said. “We’re like, ‘OK, where did he come from?’ And we’re trying to figure out what’s going on.”
Second-round leader Stanley, from Gig Harbor, shot a 74 to drop seven shots back.
A South African who lives in Fort Worth, Texas, Sabbatini’s known for his feisty manner and candor on any topic. But he tried to look at the delay as something positive.
“Actually, I think maybe that might have helped me slow down a little out there,” he said. “It allowed me to back off a little bit and kind of refocus again. So I think that was a good thing.”
Yang birdied the last two holes for a 3-under 67 and moved into a tie for second with Kelly, who shot a roller-coaster 68. Gary Woodland also had a 68 and was fourth, six shots behind.
Sabbatini, who changed putters this week, made birdie putts of 2, 40, 12, 18 and 18 feet.
“I’ve been putting well all year; I just didn’t feel like I was making anything,” he said. “Sometimes just changing the look of things, changing the feel of things, can kind of just spur something.”
South Africa’s Brenden Pappas shot a second-round 66 for a total of 5-under 133 to lead the Nationwide Tour’s Pacific Rubiales Bogota Open in Colombia. Play was suspended by darkness.