Sabbatini leads Australian PGA by 1 stroke

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> South African Rory Sabbatini birdied the 18th hole on Saturday to break out of a six-way tie and take a one-stroke lead into Sunday's final round.

Updated: December 09, 2007 16:18 IST
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South African Rory Sabbatini birdied the 18th hole on Saturday to break out of a six-way tie and take a one-stroke lead into Sunday's final round of the Australian PGA.

Sabbatini's approach on the water-protected 18th on the Hyatt Regency resort course was just three feet from the pin. Playing in the last group of the day, the birdie left Sabbatini with a 5-under 67 and a 54-hole total of 14-under 202.

"I was happy to break the deadlock, it'll make it easier tomorrow," said Sabbatini, who hit a sand wedge downwind from 124 yards to set up the tiebreaking putt.

American Jason Gore had six birdies and an eagle for an 8-under 64 for the low round of the day and was among a group of five tied for second.

Taking advantage of morning rain that softened the greens, Gore had three birdies and an eagle on four holes - 5 through 8 - to make the turn in 30.

"I got off to a great start," Gore said. "It helps to do that when you know you've got the tough back nine coming up. Having said that, I left a couple of putts that were short."

Gore is tied with Australian Adam Bland, who chipped in from a bunker on 18 for a 65, first-round leader Michael Sim (65), former champion Peter Lonard (68) and David Smail of New Zealand (67).

Second-round leader Adam Scott had a triple-bogey 8 on the par-5 12th when he missed the fairway, then the green. Then his attempted chip up from a hollow came rolling back down to where he hit it.

Scott finished with a 72, including a birdie on the last, and is in a group of five four strokes off the lead. Defending champion Nick O'Hern shot 65 and is five behind Sabbatini.

On the 361-meter (395-yard) par-4 13th, Gore hit a massive drive, a lob wedge to 4 feet for his first birdie of the back nine. He made a 2-footer for birdie on 16.

The Californian's best finish on the US PGA tour this year was second at the Buick Open and his only tour win came in the 2006 ADT Skills Challenge.

He shot 59 in a Nationwide event in 2005 on his way to his third straight win on that tour, giving him automatic promotion to the PGA tour.

"Those thoughts about another (a 59) came in, but they quickly escaped," said Gore, who is holidaying in Australia with his wife, Megan, and will play next week's Australian Open in Sydney.

Little-known Australian golfer Ben Burge, an early starter, took advantage of the morning showers to make the turn in 29, putting him in range of the course record of 63 and perhaps a 59.

But Burge, who has won three tournaments on minor Australian tours, bogeyed three of his first six holes on the back nine to finish with a 68.

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