POTOMAC — POTOMAC -- It was lonely at the top for Adam Scott yesterday at the Booz Allen Classic. Coming into the final round at the Tournament Players Club at Avenel, he was six strokes ahead of the closest man -- a margin that seemed insurmountable given Scott's excellent play.
Scott followed through with a 3-under-par performance, leaving the rest scrambling for second place.
Five players stood log-jammed between 12- and 8-under par as the round unfolded. One of those, the favorite if anyone was to catch Scott, was his friend Charles Howell III.
With a five-hole stretch of birdies on the back nine, Howell piqued the interest of those in attendance, pulling within two shots of Scott at No. 15. Those birdies in the end were nothing more than his ticket to second place and a $518,400 check.
"It's nice to play golf with nothing to lose," Howell said. "That's the mentality that I had. I knew it would take a great round from me and take a little bit of help from Adam, and it looks like it got pretty darned close there for a bit."
Howell ended at 17-under par, four shots back of Scott.
No repeat for Sabbatini
Defending champion Rory Sabbatini had a never-say-die attitude going into the final round. He got started early, with birdies on four straight holes on the front nine, but cooled after that bogeying No. 9 and scoring only two more birdies, on Nos. 13 and 14. He left the course in third place at 15-under.
Sabbatini knew he was playing for second in the early afternoon after Scott birdied No. 5 to drop to 20-under-par.
"It seemed he had settled into a pretty good routine and a pretty good rhythm out there," said Sabbatini, one of only four players to shoot in the 60s in all four rounds. "As good a player as he is, I don't think he's going to let himself make a big enough mistake to fall back that far."
After shooting Saturday's best round, a bogey-less 7-under-par 64, Kevin Na struggled yesterday, tallying four bogeys. He finished the round with a 74 for a final score of 7-under 277.
"I tried; I hung in there," said Na, the youngest player on the PGA Tour. "I think it's a learning curve. I don't like to take the learning curve, I like to just go straight up but this is going to make me a better player, a stronger player."
Rich Beem faded over the weekend, shooting a 1-over-par 72 Saturday followed by a 79 yesterday. He finished at 2-under for the tournament. Coming into Saturday, he was tied for fourth at 11-under, just three back from the lead. ... In a move that at first confused some, Jay Don Blake eight-putted the final hole of his round yesterday, giving him an 85 for the day. It was later revealed that it was a tribute to his mother, who died earlier that morning at the age of 85.