South Africans Shine In Westchester


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Rory Sabbatini and Ernie Els (pictured) were nearly 8,000 miles from their birthplace, but the two South African golfers [seemed right at home] yesterday in the first round of The Barclays at Westchester Country Club just outside of New York City.



The PGA Tour kicked off its first-ever playoffs [sans Tiger Woods], and two of his biggest foes looked über-comfortable without the Big Feline stalking the leaderboard. The brash Sabbatini, [who became Enemy No. 1](http://www.usatoday.com/sports/golf/pga/2007-08-05-bridgestone_N.htm) after calling Woods “more beatable than ever” in May and then getting annihilated by Tiger at the WGC last month, fired an impressive 8-under 63 to take the opening-round lead. Meanwhile, fellow countryman Els shot a 6-under 65 and currently sits tied for fourth place.



A soft Westchester Country Club—battered all week by steady rainfall—fell victim to the world’s best players, who took dead-aim at most pins. K.J. Choi and Rich Beem turned in 7-under 64s to put themselves just one behind Sabbatini, and two of the world’s best, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott, both fired 4-under 67s to position themselves nicely heading into Friday. Sergio Garcia managed a solid 2-under 69 as well, but the spineless Spaniard will no doubt collapse like Louisiana levees if he gets near the leaderboard on Sunday.

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