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Rory Sabbatini moves on from difficult 2005

Rory Sabbatini banished memories of a difficult 2005 with the third PGA Tour victory of his career at the Nissan Open on Sunday.

The South African, who sparked controversy at last year's Booz Allen Classic by storming ahead of playing partner Ben Crane in a protest over the American's slow play, held his nerve at Riviera Country Club to win by a shot.

Four ahead at the start of the day, Sabbatini was caught by playing partner Fred Couples at the 12th before effectively securing the title when he broke clear of a four-way tie for the lead with a birdied at the par-three 16th.

"It was a rough year last year and I think everything just combined into this year coming into it," the 29-year-old told reporters.

"I didn't have that many expectations. I just went out there and I was going to do the best I could do.

"I was just going to focus more on what I was doing on the golf course rather than on what other people are doing, focus on what I do best," added Sabbatini, who suffered his worst PGA Tour campaign in 2005 since his rookie season in 1999.

"I feel like there are a few people out there who have taken a lot of pot shots at me and it's one of those things that I didn't want to give them any more ammunition."

The Durban-born player, who had produced top-20 finishes in his first five PGA Tour starts of the year before this week, did not want to dwell on the off-course criticism he has received since last year.

He did say, though, that most of it had come from the media.

"There are a few people who seem to have their own opinions and that's pretty sad," added Sabbatini, who was so frustrated by Crane's slow progress that he completed the 17th hole before his playing partner had reached the green.

"It's someone in the media and that's as far as I'm going to go with it."

Sabbatini raised his sights after moving to the top of this season's PGA Tour money list with earnings of $2,184,294.

"That's the first time in my career, and it feels good," he said. "I'm hoping to end the year at the top of the money list as well.

"I figure I can ride this out for maybe 10, 15 more years. I don't know.

"Golf is a game and it's a game of cycles. You can have your downward cycles and you can have your downward cycles. All you can do s play your best and hope you get some luck on the way."

Sabbatini, who went into the final round at Riviera with a four-stroke lead, is looking forward to a break after next week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Carlsbad, California.

"I'm going to take three weeks off," he said.

"I'm looking forward to not thinking about golf and birdies and bogeys and things like that. Just focusing on my family and my kids, and having some fun."

February 21, 2006


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