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Sabbatini applauds triumphant Ogilvy after Kapalua sizzle

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

KAPALUA, Hawaii (Reuters) - Rory Sabbatini paid tribute to the astute play of Australian Geoff Ogilvy after the South African had to settle for second place at the PGA Tour's season-opening SBS Championship on Sunday.

Six shots adrift overnight, Sabbatini briefly surged two strokes clear of the field with a sizzling burst of birdies before he narrowly missed a 10-foot putt at the last to finish one shy of joining Ogilvy in a playoff.

"Geoff played very smartly," Sabbatini told reporters after shooting a best-of-of-the-week, 10-under-par 63 on the Kapalua Resort's hilly Plantation Course.

"We all know Geoff is an excellent golfer but his strategy around the golf course is impeccable.

"I said to my caddie on the 17th tee, we need to birdie the last two holes to have a chance," the South African said after posting a 21-under total of 271. "At that point Geoff had a lot of holes still to play."

He struck a superb five-iron to 13 feet at the tricky par-four 17th and coolly drained the putt to double his lead but lipped out with his birdie attempt at the par-five last after failing to reach the green in two.

MOVING FORWARD

"It was a situation where you had to keep moving forward to put the pressure on," the five-times PGA Tour winner said.

"Seventeen was a great hole for me but I had my opportunity and unfortunately it didn't pan out. Still, ultimately he (Ogilvy) had to hit the golf shots to win it and he did."

"I wasn't in a position where the risk-reward would have justified me going for the green. I had to take the miss and hit it out to the right and try to get it up-and-down. It just didn't pan out."

"I swear I'm going to make a putt on 18 one of these days to win, or at least get in a playoff," Sabbatini said with a rueful smile.

(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)