Patience the key for Sabbatini in Open

He’s not had the best of relationships with the Open Championship, and Rory Sabbatini doesn’t figure in the thinking of many pundits as the 2011 event gets underway at Royal St George’s.

But he takes bulldog stubbornness to new levels, and that kind of grit in the face of adversity might be the kind of recipe for success – and a finish one better than his best-ever in a major, his share of second in the 2007 Masters. He has a best of a share of 26th in the Open, in 2006, and, the last time the event was played at the testing Sandwich links, he tied for 53rd behind champion Ben Curtis.

And with the forecast of testing winds for most of the weekend, he is going to have to rein in his natural game which is so suited to United States course if he is to get into contention.

And he has managed to have such a good start to the year that a good performance in a major championship is really just one more thing he needs to go into a good canter to the finish line and finish well up on the US FedExCup rankings and also on the world rankings.

During the first decade of the 2000s, Sabbatini had five PGA Tour wins; he finished 2006 placed 12th on the money list. In September 2007, he reached the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings for the first time, with a high of eighth. He spent over 20 weeks in the top 10 in 2007 and 2008.

This year, in 12 tournaments, he has finished in the top 25 eight times, with three of those top-10 finishes – topped of course, by his victory in the Honda Classic.

The Open is uncharted territory for him, really – and patience is the key, if he can find it.

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