Rory Sabbatini wasn’t even sure he could play in the RBC Heritage because he injured his back four days earlier “doing something stupid.”
Instead, the 42-year-old South African shot a bogey-free 7-under-par 64 to take a two-stroke lead over Matt Kuchar, Chesson Hadley, Billy Horschel and John Huh at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, S.C.
“I was just happy to be able to play today,” said Sabbatini, who has won six times on the PGA Tour, but not since the 2011 Honda Classic. “I was just trying to simplify everything and wasn’t trying to hit it hard, just put it in the fairway, find the greens.
“I’ve been trying to get (his back) to (pop) all week and it kind of released everything for the closure of the last hole.”
Sabbatini’s game was solid, as he hit 10 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation in addition to sinking a 51-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole among four birdies on the back nine after starting at No. 10. He added birdies on three of his last five holes.
Huh, from Los Angeles and Cal State Northridge, sank a 9-foot birdie putt on the fifth hole in his 66, while Kuchar birdied three of his last three holes, Horschel birdied his first three holes, and Hadley collected three birdies on each nine.
Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA totaled 67 to tie sixth with Martin Laird of Scotland, Harris English and Jonas Blixt of Sweden.
Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis carded a score of 68 to finish in a massive tie for 10th with Nick Watney of Davis and Fresno State, Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, Si Woo Kim of South Korea, Charles Howell III, Peter Malnati, Cameron Smith of Australia, Brice Garnett, Fabian Gomez of Mexico and Whee Kim of South Korea.
Top-ranked Dustin Johnson is tied for 20th at 69.
For complete results, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html.