Rory leads Memorial with lessons learned

Rory Sabbatini has learned some tough lessons in his golf career, and he will need them as he leads at halfway in the Memorial Tournament.

He carded a three-under-par 69 in the second round to take a one-shot edge over a group of three players – including Tiger Woods – gathered at five-under-par as the tournament heads into the weekend.

At the Wachovia Championship in May 2007, after leading the field by one stroke after day three and then giving up five strokes to Woods to lose the tournament on Sunday, Sabbatini proclaimed that Woods was “more beatable than ever”.

In the final round of the 2007 Bridgestone Invitational, he had a fan removed who heckled him with questions about Woods. Then, in December of the same year, more controversy was stirred when he withdrew from the Target World Challenge, an off-season event hosted by Woods, becoming the only player in history to withdraw from that event.

“I guess the biggest lesson I learned was be careful what you say because the media will turn it on you,” he joked after his round.

“There’s a lot of good names on that leaderboard,” he added. “Ultimately I’m not worried about what he’s doing or anyone else is doing. I’m focused on myself. Ultimately it comes down to the challenge inside me, and that’s what I’ve got to focus on.”

And that’s the reality Sabbatini needs to deal with if he’s to turn what has been – by his own admission – a pretty poor year around. “Today the front nine, I never really got anything going, and then on back nine it just came down to just being patient with the two rounds, and ultimately I think that’s been the toughest lesson for me to learn.”

Also in the hunt was 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman, three shots behind Sabbatini after his second round of two-under-par 70. Behind him, Ernie Els is not out of it at one-over for the tournament, together with Charl Schwartzel, and Branden Grace clawed his way back into things with a level-par 72 to be at two-over, eight back.

Garth Mulroy and Louis Oosthuizen missed the cut, and Oosthuizen will feel some concern with his eight-over 80 – even though it was made in tough weather conditions.

And world number two Rory McIlroy missed his third consecutive cut and number one Luke Donald hung on grimly with a one-over 73 to be level-par for the tournament.

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