Stanley grabs lead as wind drops

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Over-the-moon at his 6-under 64 at the Honda Classic on Friday, Rory Sabbatini thought it could win the title.

Over-the-moon at his 6-under par 64 midway through Friday’s second round of the wind-lashed Honda Classic, Rory Sabbatini suggested it would be enough to win the tournament.

The South African didn’t know that the gusts of more than 20mph would drop in the afternoon and allow 23-year-old American Kyle Stanley to shoot a 4-under-66 for a 36-hole total of 134 and sweep into the lead.

“The wind probably wasn’t as strong as it was Thursday.

“Late in my round it wasn’t really a factor.” said Stanley, who, seeking his first US PGA Tour title, leads Sabbatini by a shot and is two clear of a second South African, Charl Schwartzel who is alone in third place after posting a 3-under 69

Australian Stuart Appleby (70) and Americans Ricky Barnes (68), Jerry Kelly (67) and Tommy Gainey (67) were at 2-under in a tie for 4th place.

Stanley, who achieved All-American status during his college career at Clemson, turned professional in 2009 and is fresh from a career-best 13th-place finish at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico last week, posted six birdies, including three in a row, to offset two bogeys.

One of his birdies came on the feared stretch known as the ‘Bear Trap’ between the 15th and 17th holes.

“I feel like I’ve been playing well all year, but haven’t quite put four good rounds together,” he said. “I’m getting better, and that’s the main thing.”

Among those five shots behind at 1-under was first-round leader Spencer Levin, who shot a 2-over 72 and Lee Westwood who posted a 69 in his quest to regain the World No 1 ranking he lost to Martin Kaymer after the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship last week.

The Englishman needs a lone third place or better to do it.

Also at 1-under was Matt Kuchar, whose PGA Tour-record streak of going 153 consecutive holes without a three-putt came to an end. He matched par with a 70 and at 1 under is not without a chance of adding a second Honda victory to his first in 2002.

At 6-over, the cut was at its highest this year, but the second round scores which averaged 72.3 were clearly better than Thursday’s 73.9.

“It was much tougher Thursday morning than it was this afternoon,” Kelly said.

“On Thursday you couldn’t hear anything; it was like a freight train coming through. Today you could hear people talking and things like that.”

The wind was still strong enough on Friday morning to blow out defending champion Camilo Villegas. He missed the cut after a 78 that put him 17-over par.

It was even worse for former Masters champion Mike Weir. The Canadian had four double bogeys and a triple bogey on his way to a career-worst 85 that left him seething at 22 over.

Soaring scores in the morning gave Sabbatini’s round special significance. He had switched putters before the tournament – with magical results.
He needed only 21 for the second round, one above the Tour’s best this year.

“Probably I was the most confident I’ve been with the putter in a really long time,” he said.
Stanley grabs lead as winds drops

Over-the-moon at his 6-under par 64 midway through Friday’s second round of the wind-lashed Honda Classic, Rory Sabbatini suggested it would be enough to win the tournament.

The South African didn’t know that the gusts of more than 20mph would drop in the afternoon and allow 23-year-old American Kyle Stanley to shoot a 4-under-66 for a 36-hole total of 134 and sweep into the lead.

“The wind probably wasn’t as strong as it was Thursday. Late in my round it wasn’t really a factor.” said Stanley, who, seeking his first US PGA Tour title, leads Sabbatini by a shot and is two clear of a second South African, Charl Schwartzel who is alone in third place after posting a 3-under 69

Australian Stuart Appleby (70) and Americans Ricky Barnes (68), Jerry Kelly (67) and Tommy Gainey (67) were at 2-under in a tie for 4th place.

Stanley, who achieved All-American status during his college career at Clemson, turned professional in 2009 and is fresh from a career-best 13th-place finish at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico last week, posted six birdies, including three in a row, to offset two bogeys.

One of his birdies came on the feared stretch known as the ‘Bear Trap’ between the 15th and 17th holes.

“I feel like I’ve been playing well all year, but haven’t quite put four good rounds together,” he said. “I’m getting better, and that’s the main thing.”

Among those five shots behind at 1-under was first-round leader Spencer Levin, who shot a 2-over 72 and Lee Westwood who posted a 69 in his quest to regain the World No 1 ranking he lost to Martin Kaymer after the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship last week.

The Englishman needs a lone third place or better to do it.

Also at 1-under was Matt Kuchar, whose PGA Tour-record streak of going 153 consecutive holes without a three-putt came to an end. He matched par with a 70 and at 1 under is not without a chance of adding a second Honda victory to his first in 2002.

At 6-over, the cut was at its highest this year, but the second round scores which averaged 72.3 were clearly better than Thursday’s 73.9.

“It was much tougher Thursday morning than it was this afternoon,” Kelly said.

“On Thursday you couldn’t hear anything; it was like a freight train coming through. Today you could hear people talking and things like that.”

The wind was still strong enough on Friday morning to blow out defending champion Camilo Villegas. He missed the cut after a 78 that put him 17-over par.

It was even worse for former Masters champion Mike Weir. The Canadian had four double bogeys and a triple bogey on his way to a career-worst 85 that left him seething at 22 over.

Soaring scores in the morning gave Sabbatini’s round special significance. He had switched putters before the tournament – with magical results.
He needed only 21 for the second round, one above the Tour’s best this year.

“Probably I was the most confident I’ve been with the putter in a really long time,” he said.

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