Rory Sabbatini follows through on his drive off the ninth tee during the second round of the Byron Nelson Championship at TPC Four Seasons in Irving, Texas, Friday. Sabbatini finished the second round at 8-under.AP photo
IRVING, Texas — Rory Sabbatini had just finished detailing his four consecutive birdies when wife Amy reminded him about the hole before the streak that put him in the lead at the Byron Nelson Championship.
“My par on No. 3 was better than any of the birdies,” Sabbatini said. “I drove it in the water, then hit a 5-iron in the right greenside bunker, then holed it. Just a regulation par.”
That 96-foot par-saving bunker blast at the 528-yard third hole, his 12th of the day, and the birdie quartet came in his season-low round of 6-under 64. Sabbatini matched John Mallinger (65) at 8-under 132, a stroke ahead of five players.
Mallinger eagled both par 5s at the TPC Four Seasons, holing a 45-foot shot from the greenside bunker at No. 7 and sinking a 14-foot putt at No. 16. He also had three bogeys and four birdies, the last a 15-footer at No. 18 for a share of the lead.
First-round co-leader James Nitties (68) overcame a double bogey when he hit his first tee shot out of bounds. The PGA Tour rookie was in the group at 7 under that included playing partner Brian Davis (65), who finished his sixth consecutive round in the 60s after an early three-putt from 5 feet for double bogey.
Briny Baird (64), James Driscoll (66) and Dustin Johnson (65) also were 7 under. Driscoll, who lost in a playoff at Justin Leonard last week in the Texas Open, finished with consecutive bogeys, three-putting the 198-yard 17th and missing the fairway off the tee at No. 18.
“It stinks to end like that, but I did a lot of things great out there, too,” Driscoll said. “So it’s kind of what I’m going to focus on.”
Defending champion Adam Scott missed the cut by three strokes after consecutive 71s. Since a runner-up finish at the Sony Open in January and two World Golf Championship events that have no cuts, Scott has missed the cut and gone without a paycheck his last six tournaments.
Ken Duke, who shared the first-round lead, shot a 69 and was two strokes back with Robert Allenby (67) and D.A. Points (66).
Sabbatini had consecutive top-10 finishes at Hilton Head and New Orleans before missing cuts at Quail Hollow and The Players Championship.
“I just got sick during (Quail Hollow) and lost a lot of energy. I made a bad choice of playing while I was sick,” he said. “A few bad things crept into my swing that week and it carried over. ... Luckily, I’ve kind of worked that out a little bit.”
Sabbatini’s only bogey came on his third hole, the 455-yard No. 12, where he drove into the right rough and hit his approach into a greenside bunker.
After the unconventional par at No. 3, Sabbatini pitched inside 9 feet at Nos. 4 and 6, made a 13-footer at the 174-yard fifth and two-putted from 65 feet at par-5 7th.
Even though Sabbatini lives only a few miles from the TPC course, he is playing there for the first time since missing the Nelson cut last year.
Sabbatini hasn’t won since 2007 at Colonial, where next week he will be the most recent champion after Phil Mickelson’s withdrawal.
Mallinger, who tied for third at The Players to match a career-best finish, got back even for his round with a 16-foot birdie at the par-4 sixth and followed immediately with his first eagle and another birdie.