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August 2, 2007

Rory Sabbatini


NELSON SILVERIO: Welcome, Rory, for coming in for a couple minutes. How is the course playing today?
RORY SABBATINI: Well, the course is certainly going to get tougher, but right now it's playing pretty tough. It's in the best condition I've ever seen it, the most lush conditions, so I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing. The rough is insane out there. It's like you're hitting the ball out of Velcro. It just makes it pretty hard to advance the ball up to the greens.
The fairways are beautiful and the greens are perfect. They're really fast and smooth. We're lucky out there today, the wind didn't pick up too much and it was good scoring conditions. It was just a matter of putting the ball in the fairway.

Q. RORY SABBATINI, a few minutes ago, was saying these are probably the fastest greens he's played on all year.
RORY SABBATINI: You've got to understand we came from Germany where they were rolling about 9, so this is doubly insane for us.
When I say they're perfect, they are so smooth -- the course is just in unbelievable condition, so I'll tell you what, by Sunday if we don't get any rain -- I don't see anybody going to be able to really get the ball close to any holes unless they're chipping.

Q. Is it close to a U.S. Open type setup then, would you say?
RORY SABBATINI: I would say this is probably a tougher setup than the U.S. Open with regards to the rough. But obviously we just don't have the severity of the greens here. I'd say this is -- Firestone I've always liked. I think it's one of the greatest golf courses. A couple of the changes they've made this year have made it excessively difficult, especially like driving hole No. 9 now. It's made it pretty difficult to hit that fairway. It's going to be a challenge come Sunday.

Q. The hat and the shirt seem to match. Was that an accident?
RORY SABBATINI: I got dressed in the dark. You didn't know that? Come on. I've even got the matching shoes. I raided Poulter's closet, what can I tell you?

Q. Going back to the spring probably, May, early June, hitting the ball really, really nicely. Where have you been from there?
RORY SABBATINI: You know, just -- actually even when I won at Colonial, I wasn't very happy with my swing. I was struggling. There was something there, I just couldn't figure out what it was. U.S. Open I struggled for four days, and then took a couple weeks off, thought maybe just the body was tired, but that didn't seem to help any. Come the British, just struggled there for two days. Finally after playing pretty poor in the first round of Germany last week, we did some video with my swing and compared it to Augusta, and there was a breakdown in the swing so we had to recorrect it and rebuild the swing back to where we wanted it, and we got it accomplished pretty simply. Since then things have been pretty good.

Q. It seems like that would take more than three days.
RORY SABBATINI: No, it actually only took us about an hour and a half.

Q. Who was with you?

Q. He was doing the video work, was he?
RORY SABBATINI: Well, he's my instructor, too.
You've got a really confused look on your face.

Q. So do you.
RORY SABBATINI: Kevin is my instructor. He's the guy I trust with my swing. He probably plays more golf with me than anybody on the planet and knows exactly what I'm looking for, so him and I work together.

Q. Does he have a background in coaching?
RORY SABBATINI: He's actually an extremely good coach, yeah. He was assistant head professional at Star Pass out in Arizona, and that's what his job was, was teaching people how to play golf.

Q. I just thought he was a ski bum.
RORY SABBATINI: That's okay, a lot of people look at him as a homeless pirate.

Q. How long has he been your coach?
RORY SABBATINI: About three, four years now.

Q. Was that the key today, just having your swing straightened out?
RORY SABBATINI: Today was probably one of my best ball-striking days on Tour. I hit the ball very well today. I hit a lot of good iron shots. This golf course will test your iron shots, especially on these par 3s. I had four good opportunities at birdies on the par 3s today and made two of them. I drove the ball well, and that's just how things work. You keep yourself in play and get yourself on the greens, give yourself some opportunities on this course, and as good as these greens are, you're going to make putts.

Q. I seem to recall you having a really good chance, I want to say, three years ago, two years ago.
RORY SABBATINI: I think it was 2004.

Q. What happened there, do you remember?
RORY SABBATINI: I finished second. I finished two behind with Tiger off Stewart Cink. I was behind the whole way. I think I got it to within one of Stewart, and then he birdied 17, something like that.

Q. Have you done The Presidents Cup thing yet?
RORY SABBATINI: What about it?

Q. Have you played? You're in good shape for this year's team.
RORY SABBATINI: Yeah, I'm in good shape. I think I'm 7th or 8th on the list.

Q. But you have not played in this yet, right?
RORY SABBATINI: No. I'm actually going up the week of Greensboro up to Canada. I'm going to be up there actually right across the road for the outing for the Canadian event up there and try and get a couple rounds in there while I'm up there.

Q. Do you look forward to that?
RORY SABBATINI: Oh, definitely. Come on, you know me. I love confrontation (laughter).

Q. Will you ask Gary for Tiger?
RORY SABBATINI: Sure, why not?

Q. There's a great history there. Do you know about that one?
RORY SABBATINI: If you wouldn't, you looked like a stud. If not, you sacrificed yourself for the good of the team.

Q. Gary said he's going to arrange it.
RORY SABBATINI: Oh, perfect, that's fine. That's a cool deal there. I think I'd be more worried about Tiger playing match play in his amateur days because he was unbeatable then.

Q. He was playing amateurs back then.
RORY SABBATINI: I was busy taking summer holidays.

Q. How would making The Presidents Cup team compare to playing for South Africa in the World Cup as an achievement for you?
RORY SABBATINI: That's a funny one. Obviously playing the World Cup is a great honor, but it just seems like over the past couple years it's declined in stature. That's obviously a sad thing because you would think everyone would want to represent their country. So I think playing in the Presidents Cup would maybe be just a little bit even more of a highlight for me than that. It would come a close second to winning a green jacket or a Claret Jug or a Wannamaker or something like that.

Q. Close?
RORY SABBATINI: Close, close second.

Q. You have not been to Southern Hills, have you?
RORY SABBATINI: No, no. After Oakmont this year I'm going and getting in some early preparation. I figure this time I'll just go to this course and get ready and abuse myself at the normal rate (laughter).

Q. It's a week earlier this year, if I'm not mistaken, the PGA.
RORY SABBATINI: I believe it is.

Q. Do you feel it, in terms of having had the Open and the week is done and all of a sudden there's another one right on top of it?
RORY SABBATINI: The funny thing is I'm really kind of disappointed. It's cutting into my summertime ability to be out at the lake, so it's really cutting into my lake time. I'm kind of annoyed about that. I want them to consult with me in the future and go with my schedule.

Q. The odds of that happening?
RORY SABBATINI: Yeah, I kind of see that like me getting elected on the Policy Board (laughter).

Q. Are you running for office now?
RORY SABBATINI: No, I don't run for office. If I wanted to be a politician I'd just go commit crimes (laughter).

Q. Have you gone over your birdies at all?
RORY SABBATINI: No, I haven't gone over those yet.
Well, that's pretty easy. That's the front nine. I started on 10, I bogeyed 14. I hit 3-wood in the middle of the fairway, hit 5-iron into the back fringe, chipped it to about five feet and missed it.
18, made bogey, drove it into the right first cut, had 106 hole, had the tree on the right in my way, hit the tree, dropped down, chipped it to about 15 feet, made bogey.
1, hit 2-iron off the tee, hit 9-iron to about three feet, made that one.
No. 2, hit driver in the fairway, hit 2-iron from like 249 hole to about 20 feet, two-putted for birdie.
3, hit 2-iron off the tee, had about 169 hole, hit 9-iron to about a foot.
No. 4, made bogey, hit 3-wood in the left rough, 6-iron into the fringe on the right, chipped it to about 15 feet, missed it.
No. 5, made birdie, hit 7-iron to about two feet.
No. 7, made birdie, hit 6-iron to about ten feet.
No. 9, made birdie, hit driver, 9-iron to about five, six feet, made birdie.

Q. At Wachovia in particular, I just happen to remember there were a couple holes where you made some really aggressive plays with the driver, and they didn't turn out but that's hindsight. Is that your nature, and have you ever wondered if on some shapes of holes it's maybe time to scale back?
RORY SABBATINI: Uh-huh, oh, yeah. I hit -- let's see. I hit 3-wood off No. 4 today. That's normally traditionally a driver hole. I've hit a lot of 2-irons and 3-woods. I hit 2-iron off No. 14 today. I've actually gotten my equipment where I want it right now. I think I've got everything set exactly where I need it to be. My swing is feeling good, so I think everything is coming together. I think it's just -- my game is just starting to peak at the right time.
NELSON SILVERIO: Rory, thanks a lot.

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