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August 23, 2007

Rory Sabbatini


NELSON SILVERIO: Welcome, Rory, thanks for coming and spending a couple of minutes with us. Just take us through that round. Great way to get the tournament started.
RORY SABBATINI: You know, the course, it's playing easy right now. There's no wind out there, and you know, it's pretty much shooting darts at the flags. The greens are receptive and you know, where you land the drives, that's where the ball is going to hit. So in a sense it's making it play pretty easy. A little longer but still pretty easy.

Q. Does this feel any different than a regular TOUR event? Or did it feel like a Playoff?
RORY SABBATINI: You know, I don't know if it feels any different than any other event. If anything it's just, you know, I'm approaching it the same way I approach every other week, come in here, get my work done. I'm not thinking about three weeks down the road, I'm not thinking about two weeks down the road. I'm just thinking about each round as it comes and I'm here to try and win a golf tournament.

Q. Did Firestone teach you anything about handling different things or keeping things together out there?
RORY SABBATINI: Well, that was just -- that obviously taught me, you can't get off to a bad start. You've got to get things going the right direction early and build on that.
You know, I had to battle through that one, so I can take that out of it; obviously things got going in the wrong direction and I managed to stop the bleeding, per se, and get things kind of going back in the right direction at the end there.
But it's a different golf course, different playing conditions, so I think this is obviously a lot easier to get around without getting in as much trouble as that course was playing.

Q. You had a breakthrough year; can you talk about what caused it, what three or four things resulted in you taking this next step?
RORY SABBATINI: It has been a great year. I'll answer your question backwards.
Yes, it has been a great year. You know, you can look at it that way, but at the same time, it's been a frustrating year because I've given myself a lot of good opportunities to win golf tournaments and haven't got the job done. So in a sense, it's been a little bit of a disappointment because of that.
But it's definitely been a year in which I've kind of changed my aspects of how I think out there and I just believe in myself more. You know, also we've done a lot of work on getting me physically -- just physically prepared. So it's definitely paying off.

Q. Is that Jeff Banaszak?
RORY SABBATINI: Yeah, don't print his name. I don't want anyone else using him.

Q. What are you doing with him?
RORY SABBATINI: Just a lot of stabilizing, stability exercises. We're now doing a lot of strength and stability work together. So you know, we've only really been doing that the last four, five weeks and that's made a huge change. Obviously my power out on the golf course feels far improved and it's making it a lot easier for me when I do want to have that great year again.

Q. Is there a time when you believe in yourself less?
RORY SABBATINI: Yeah, every time I see you. (Laughter).

Q. Can you elaborate on that?
RORY SABBATINI: No, that's just between you and I. (Laughter).

Q. Where do you go to work on your aspect? Where do you go to work on your belief and your thinking?
RORY SABBATINI: I've always been a very tough person on myself on the golf course, just very much a perfectionist. You know, it's just I think -- I don't know, maybe I've just gotten too tired to keep doing that. So I'm just looking at it that, you know what, I'm going to make mistakes. I made mistakes on the golf course today. It's just a matter of recovering and limiting the damage.
I've just become a lot more patient with myself out on the golf course.

Q. You probably knew this one was coming, but Tiger's not here; do you think that makes any difference, and what would it mean to be able to take a points lead after this week?
RORY SABBATINI: Well, obviously any time you can get a head start, great. But it's a disappointment because, you know, obviously the whole purpose of this new system was to try and create an atmosphere that would draw everybody to the final four events of the year. Obviously it's kind of backfired in the sense by Tiger skipping the first event.
It leaves a lot of questions and a lot of interesting questions to what they need to do, to, I don't know, maybe change it so that you definitely have the incentive to play all four. Whether it be you play three, you only get 75 percent of the 10 million or you play two, you get 50 percent; make it something where you want the ten million, you've got to play for it.

Q. You've never hidden the fact that you're a pretty confident player and person. Curious, how long have you been a confident player? Were you confident and brash as a youngster in junior golf as well, or is it more of a late development?
RORY SABBATINI: I think I started being confident when I was about four. That was actually a lot worse. I've actually kind of toned it down. (Laughter).

Q. Was it a part of your game in junior golf, amateur golf?
RORY SABBATINI: I don't know if it was just -- when I grew up playing golf, I didn't -- I was never on the golf course. I was always on the range. I would never take a lesson or anything like that. I would go and hit balls and try and create shots and put balls behind trees and try to hit it between gaps of trees and try and hook it, just try to be creative out there.
I've always had a passion for that part of the game. I like creative shots. I'm a very visual golfer and that's what I enjoy doing. You know, sorry, I get excited about it. That's how I am.

Q. Ernie was in here a few minutes ago and said he knew your brother back home a little bit; what's your relationship with him and is he a guy you looked up to a little bit as he began his career?
RORY SABBATINI: Yeah, obviously I knew of Ernie. I never really knew Ernie. He was six years older than me. He actually played competitive golf against my brother so my brother knew Ernie a lot better.
The funniest thing is Ernie doesn't remember, but maybe it's just the South African thing but I met him for the first time when he was 18. I went up to him and introduced myself and he goes, "Now you can tell everybody else you met Ernie." Maybe it's just a South African thing. (Laughter).

Q. You've put yourself in position to win and you've been disappointed that you have not been able to get the job done. What do you think has prevented you from getting the job done?
RORY SABBATINI: It's just making mental mistakes on the golf course. Obviously I had two pretty good opportunities out there to make mental errors, and the holes I'm referring to are 11 and 12. I missed two key fairways there and put myself in bad positions. You know, both times pulled a 2-iron out of the bag or the hybrid thinking, you know, maybe I can whack it up on the green and both times I put it back in the bag and pitched out. I just had to kind of swallow the pride there and go back to playing a little defensive golf.
That's definitely something that is hard for me to do, because I want to be an aggressive golfer and everything like that, so it's hard for me to back down and be a little bit more conservative. Obviously that's just learning; you know, you hit yourself in the ankle enough times, you'll start doing it.

Q. You mentioned that you're not thinking about two weeks down the road, three weeks down the road. Can you talk about the value you place in this new format in the context of your season? And also, you lost in a playoff here, wonder your recollections of that are.
RORY SABBATINI: I've never been a golfer that goes into it, looking at, hey, I'm playing for this position or this much money or anything like that. I've never been in it for the money. I'm a competitor. I want to win any time I tee the ball up. That's how I am.
This doesn't change anything. I'm teeing the ball up on the first tee like everybody else and I want to win. That's the approach I take, I want to win the golf tournament. I never play for position.
The second half of your question was which, again?

Q. What do you remember about the playoff?
RORY SABBATINI: What I remember about the playoff is it was Padraig Harrington and Sergio, and Sergio birdied 18 and I didn't the second time around or third time around. That's as much as I remember.

Q. Do you place a greater value on winning over the course of four tournaments and would that be something -- is that a feather in your cap as well or you don't even care about that?
RORY SABBATINI: You know, my goal every year is to make it to Kapalua, and the more qualifications I get to get to Kapalua, the better I feel. So that's the way I look at it and that's the way it's always going to be.

Q. Talking about taking the next step, winning Colonial and giving yourself other chances of winning; where do you see yourself right now in this game if you look at it from the standpoint of the top echelon of golf, second level, third level, where do you see yourself?
RORY SABBATINI: I would say I'm getting close to getting to the top level. I keep opening the door and keep slamming it on my foot every time I step through.
It's just a matter of time before I break through and get to that top level, that's the way I look at it.

Q. I'm wondering, how did you end up coming to college in the U.S.? It seems like the guys in South African guys turn pro, Immelman and others; you seem to be more American than South African.
RORY SABBATINI: I guess it's just the sense that at the time, I knew I wasn't ready for professional golf. And you know, obviously I knew a couple of guys that had come to college over here and from talking with them knew it was a good stepping stone in getting prepared. I ended up going to Arizona and was probably the best move I ever made. Rick LaRose was an adamant teacher, not only of the golf swing, but of course management and understanding the game. If I had listened to him the 3 1/2 years I was there, I probably would be a lot better off. I'm kind of learning the lessons he tried to teach me my first year on TOUR.
It was an improvement on my game and it was definitely a big stepping stone for me playing in professional golf.

Q. Would we have heard of any of the guys?
RORY SABBATINI: Gary Matthews, caddies for Tim Clark. Warren Sceda (ph), there was a couple others Manny Zerman, that's a lot of guys.

Q. The pap as brothers played college golf, too, right?
RORY SABBATINI: Yeah, Deane and Branden, yeah.

Q. Were you an underdog then, in high school or junior high or the equivalent in South Africa, a late bloomer, would you say relative to your peer group in South Africa?
RORY SABBATINI: Put it this way, by the time I was 12 years old, I was a scratch golfer. So I was breaking par nine out of ten rounds by the time I was 13, 14 years old. I always played off the championship tee, so it wasn't like I was playing off forward tees or anything like that. I wouldn't say I was a late bloomer.
Just golf, as good as you can be, you definitely need to be mentally prepared and it's just like going to the range and hitting golf balls and getting your swing ready, you've got to get your mind right and that's the toughest part about it. That's probably more key than probably getting the swing right.

Q. How did you come to the realization that you were not mentally ready? As confident as you seem to be now, backing up to age 18 now, to know that you weren't ready -- a maturity thing more than anything?
RORY SABBATINI: I think it was just a feeling that I had. I realized that I needed more experience, more competitive experience and that's just I guess the way I looked at it. Obviously at that point I had a very limited international competitive experience, so I knew basically where I stood in South Africa, but that's small.

Q. Going back to The Barclays for a second, the whole FedEx, if they decided to stratify it, maybe having it every other week, guys not getting so tired, would that maybe draw a larger field?
RORY SABBATINI: I don't see it. There's many guys that play on TOUR that are out of shape and they play six, seven weeks in a row. It's just, I don't know if there's any solution to it, but there's got to be some kind of financial incentive, you know, or, I don't know, they have got to find a solution to it to make it an incentive to play the four.
I don't think it makes any difference if it's alternating weeks. I think if anything, if you're playing well and you come to these four weeks, it actually helps you more than anything else.

Q. So you think it's something other than fatigue then?
RORY SABBATINI: Oh, I definitely think it's something other than fatigue.

Q. Any idea what that would maybe be?
RORY SABBATINI: Well, I think maybe to some people 10 million doesn't seem like a whole lot of incentive but to others it would seem like a good incentive.

Q. Earlier you talked about playing conservatively on certain holes. On 12, you put the hybrid back and chipped out, and earlier on 8 you chipped out of the rough?
RORY SABBATINI: My ball bounced in the bunker and went straight back up and ended up where it landed, so it was in an embedded lie and actually had to drop it in a far worse lie, so I guess I penalized myself. I could have probably actually accessed the ball from the lie. It wasn't particularly bad. It was just a strange situation and I just ran to a rules official just to make sure.

Q. Playing conservatively, is that something you're going to try to do for the rest of the week or more so?
RORY SABBATINI: Dude, I don't know. That's tomorrow, I haven't got that far. (Laughter).

Q. Of the two good chances you had beyond Colonial winning this year, which one bugged you the most, Wachovia or Firestone?

Q. Because?
RORY SABBATINI: I wanted to win badly.

Q. Why?
RORY SABBATINI: Obviously I had Wachovia before, so first time it hurt, the second time, it really starts to annoy you.

Q. Annoy you, just because of how you --
RORY SABBATINI: Just because I knew that everything that occurred in the last round was basically unfolded because of the mistakes I made and just, you know, very stupid mistakes to put it bluntly.

Q. At Firestone?

Q. And Wachovia --
RORY SABBATINI: That was a situation where I had struggled with my swing all week but had somehow managed to get the ball in the hole so it kind of caught up to me there. Whereas at Firestone I was hitting the ball well. There was no excuse, I made mental errors.

Q. To follow up, do you feel like you were trying too hard at Firestone or other circumstances that caused that 74?
RORY SABBATINI: No, I don't think it was trying too hard. It was the situation that I made a couple mistakes and then I tried to turn things around really fast to get going in the right direction and reapply pressure and that's a golf course you can't do that on. It basically is going to dig you deeper in the hole there.
That was one of the situations where I had to learn the lesson of, sometimes you know what, you can't make things happen quick. Sometimes you have to slow down, readjust and build the pressure slowly.

Q. Does it matter that it was Tiger you were playing with both times from the standpoint that you beat the No. 1 as opposed to, had it been any other player, Padraig Harrington, Rich Beem, whatever?
RORY SABBATINI: It doesn't make any difference to me. It's just a situation. I'm a competitor. I want to win. That's as far as that goes.
But you know, if you can beat Tiger in the process, it just makes it sweeter. Definitely if it's a head-to-head situation, obviously that's something people have struggled to do in the past. It's something somebody has eventually got to do.

Q. Does it make it sweeter beating Tiger as opposed to beating someone else?
RORY SABBATINI: I'm not saying it adds any bitterness to the situation but it's just something that happened to me in the circumstances. But yes, it would definitely be sweeter to be in that position and be one of the guys that was able to overcome that and, you know, break through and win.

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