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Rory Sabbatini seeks return of early season form

South African Rory Sabbatini will bid to resurrect his impressive early season form for his title defense at this week’s Colonial Invitational.

The Texas-based professional posted two top-three finishes in his first three starts on the 2008 PGA Tour before losing momentum after suffering from flu.

He has missed two cuts in his last five tournaments but believes his game is close to where he wants it for Thursday’s opening round at Colonial Country Club.

“We’re close, we’re getting there,” Sabbatini, 32, told reporters in the build-up to one of the most popular events on Tour.

“It feels like the ball-striking is there and I feel like I’m hitting it well. We’ve just got to get everything clicking together.”

The out-spoken South African finished second at the Sony Open in January before tying for third at the Buick Invitational. Then his season was de-railed by a severe bout of flu.

“I got that flu that was going around with a bit of pneumonia,” said Sabbatini, a four-times winner on the PGA Tour. “By the time I got to the end of the West Coast Swing, I was having a hard time walking 18 holes.

“That kind of wiped me out and took away a lot of my energy and focus. Some things crept into my game that weren’t there to start with and I’ve tried to work those bugs back out of the system.”

Sabbatini, who won last year’s Colonial Invitational in a three-way playoff with American Jim Furyk and Germany’s Bernhard Langer, faces a strong line-up.

American world number two Phil Mickelson, the 2000 champion, heads the field in his first appearance at Colonial Country Club since 2005.

Four other members of the top 10 are competing, fifth-ranked Furyk, fellow American Steve Stricker, Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy and South Korea’s K.J. Choi.

Other leading contenders include rising American talent Anthony Kim, who clinched his maiden PGA Tour title at the Wachovia Championship three weeks ago, and Texan Chad Campbell, runner-up here in 2004.

This week celebrates the 62nd anniversary of a tournament made famous by golfing great Ben Hogan.

American Hogan won the title five times between 1946 and 1959 and his name is among other luminaries such as Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus engraved on a marble wall close to the first tee.

May 21, 2008


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