IRVING, Texas — Rory Sabbatini knelt down on the 18th green as his two young children charged to congratulate him with hugs and kisses.
“The beauty about it is just seeing the innocent joy in their eyes,” Sabbatini said after his victory Sunday in the Byron Nelson Championship.
Wearing a pink shirt in a show of support for Amy Mickelson, recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and heavy hearted because of the rapidly deteriorating health of a buddy with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Sabbatini shot a 6-under 64 for a two-stroke victory over late-charging Brian Davis in Lord Byron’s tournament.
“Obviously this tournament is very special,” Sabbatini said. “It’s one that I wish I had have been able to win it and look up and see Byron sitting there at the 18th green . . . What a wonderful name to be associated with now.”
After an eight-foot putt at No. 17 for his third straight birdie, Sabbatini got to enjoy the champion’s walk up No. 18. And it didn’t matter that his seven-foot par putt slid past and he had to tap in for bogey.
Once the final putt dropped, Sabbatini’s five-year-old son and three-year old daughter — with “Team Sabo” inscribed on their clothing — ran out to greet him. He then embraced wife Amy and Peggy Nelson, the widow of Byron Nelson.
Sabbatini, the 33-year-old South African who lives in nearby Fort Worth, finished at 19-under 261 at TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas to break the tournament mark of 18 under set by Loren Roberts and playoff loser Steve Pate in 1999 — when the Cottonwood Valley course also was used the first two days.
Sabbatini earned US$1.17 million for his fifth PGA Tour victory.
Mike Weir of Bright’s Grove, Ont., shot a 1-under 69 on Sunday and finish tied for 16th overall at 8-under par.
Davis shot a bogey-free 64 to finish second for the third time in his career, though he’s still looking for his first victory. It was the 34-year-old Englishman’s third consecutive top-five finish, including The Players Championship.
“I’m disappointed I didn’t win. But all you can do is put yourself in position,” Davis said. “I played great, stuck in there, and I’m ecstatic with that.”