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August 29, 2007

Rory Sabbatini


STEWART MOORE: Rory Sabbatini, thanks for spending a couple moments with us here at the Deutsche Bank Championship. You come into this week, you're third on the FedExCup Points list after great play last week, and you're in, if you will, the final pairing this week for Friday and Saturday, the top three on the points list. Do you like that standing or would you rather almost be a spot back with the midst of Tiger, Phil and Vijay and going eye to eye with them for two days?
RORY SABBATINI: You know, the situation is obviously with three events remaining, you obviously want to be as high up as you can, give yourself as much opportunity as you can for -- if you do have an off week of still being able to recover from it.
I'm quite happy being where I am.
STEWART MOORE: You've been out on the golf course. Do you like the changes?
RORY SABBATINI: Obviously this is the first time I've seen the golf course. I've never played this event before, so this was a first time around for me. The course is in great condition, the greens are good, and I think the course is very fair.

Q. What's four weeks in a row out of a suitcase for you? Is that rare, or do you do that all the time? Is this a fairly busy stretch for you or commonplace?
RORY SABBATINI: It's no change for me. You know, typically I play almost the full West Coast Swing anyway. I've played seven or eight events in a row before, so it's nothing new to me.
This time of year is generally the time of year where I kind of gear it down a little bit. Obviously this year I had to kind of change scheduling. I skipped Memorial, which is normally a course I love to play and play well there. I just had to kind of change my schedule around for that.

Q. Do you have to make adjustments? Do you fly back and forth to other coasts? You're Dallas, right?
RORY SABBATINI: I'm in Dallas, but my family is typically on the road with me, and we have the bus here. There's no packing, no unpacking, so in a sense it's like being at home in a way.

Q. I didn't realize you were one of the bus guys.

Q. Rich Beem was just in here and was saying in his words, let's be brutally honest, without Tiger Woods in one of these Playoff fields, the event doesn't matter as much. What's your take on that look into the Playoffs?
RORY SABBATINI: The way I see it there's four events and all of them matter. You know, play all four events, play well, and you give yourself more opportunity to finish higher up.
You know, that's like saying if your starting pitcher wasn't playing in the playoffs in the majors that it doesn't matter. I mean, I think it still matters just as much.

Q. Also, we were talking before, Rich finished seventh last week. In order for him to move on this week he needs to finish tied for second or better. If he finishes third he goes home. Might there be concern for guys that finish in the Top 10 this week being able to continue on as a regular Top 10 finisher would?
RORY SABBATINI: Well, that's the beauty of the way they set it up. You have all year to get yourself in position. You've got to play well. You can't just suddenly show up for the last four events. You have to qualify your position and put yourself high enough going into it that if you do have a bad week or don't finish as high up as you would like, you still have a cushion there that you know you've got a safety.
The situation is that's the way it was structured, that's the way we've known it was going to be all year. So there's no big surprise in it.

Q. What do you think of the way the Playoffs have been structured, and would you tweak them at all if you could?
RORY SABBATINI: Well, the only thing that I find a little strange and confusing in a sense is you have the season ending event now in Atlanta, and obviously the conclusion of the Playoffs, and then you still have another eight events afterwards. It's like, okay, the points end, but then the Money List doesn't end until after those eight events. Now obviously a lot of manufacturers are using the Playoffs as the end of the Money List. So there's a lot of confusion going on.
Obviously with regards to qualification for majors, for tournaments, you win an event in the last eight, you don't get -- from what I understand you don't get qualified for Maui.

Q. It's The Masters. You get to Maui but not The Masters.
RORY SABBATINI: Thank you for correcting me.
You know, just the way I've always seen it is if you win any event out here on TOUR, you've played well. Regardless, it seems just a little confusing in that sense. It's a shame that guys that -- say somebody finishes 31st on the FedExCup points doesn't make it to Atlanta, they go out and play all eight season ending events and win all eight, they can't move up. It seems very -- it's just very different. I haven't quite grown accustomed to it yet.

Q. Do you plan to play after Atlanta?
RORY SABBATINI: I've actually got a couple events, but I haven't decided whether or not I'm going to play any fall events yet. I'm playing Wentworth, got a couple in the off-season, but haven't decided on anything yet regarding the Fall Series.

Q. You said earlier that all the players have had all season to jockey for position. At what point did you start not looking at the prize money list but more closely the FedExCup Points standings?
RORY SABBATINI: You know, it's just -- it's been the situation all year long that I've approached every event that I've played as always. I'm not looking at gaining points here or there or anything like that. I'm going out there to try to play as well as I can, put myself in position and in contention. You know, that's just the way I've approached the year, and it's just happened to be that I've played well and played fairly consistently throughout the year and kept myself in high enough position.

Q. But for you was there any sense of FedExCup anticipation, say a couple of weeks out before the Playoffs began?
RORY SABBATINI: I've never really had any anticipation. I've just been more focused on playing and just putting -- continuing to put myself in contention. Obviously I'd like to get multiple wins this year, so that's always my kind of goal.

Q. Were you surprised -- did you see what the TV ratings were for the weekend, for last week?
RORY SABBATINI: I have no clue.

Q. Pretty small. CBS got beaten by the Little League World Series in the ratings. I'm wondering whether you're a little surprised by that, or is that just the Tiger factor and football season getting ready to start? It seemed like the product was pretty good because the varsity guys were in the mix; it was you and Phil and Ernie and a pretty good leaderboard. I guess maybe the public just hasn't quite got their teeth into this thing yet.
RORY SABBATINI: Well, obviously --

Q. Going by the numbers, whatever that means.
RORY SABBATINI: Well, according to the numbers, apparently last week Tiger not playing did have an effect. That's obviously something the TOUR is going to have to look at, maybe implementing a way that guys are going to have to play all four events, make it a true playoff.
I'm sure obviously they'll assess everything that's happened and tweak the system however they need to tweak it.

Q. I know there's plenty of money for you guys to be made, but obviously there's plenty of money involved in this from the TOUR side of things. When you step outside of the competition of it and you see what FedEx is doing, what all these other companies are doing, do you kind of sense that the Playoffs as they're being put forward is kind of just one giant marketing opportunity for the TOUR, another way to make money? Do you guys ever step out of the big business and look at it that way other than just the competition part of it?
RORY SABBATINI: You know, I don't really spend a whole lot of time looking at all the other factors involved because obviously the way I look at it, I've got enough to keep my attention in playing golf out here and getting myself ready and prepared to play.
You know, I try and remained focus on what I'm doing. Obviously the TOUR is trying to do what's in the best interest of the TOUR and what's in the best interest of the players. I'm sure they're going to continue to look at everything that's going on and assess it and do what they need to do.

Q. You mentioned earlier what a consistent year you've had. What's been the big difference for you either technically or psychologically?
RORY SABBATINI: I've spent a lot more time this year actually getting myself physically conditioned throughout the year, and I think that's been a big factor in helping me maintain my concentration out there and basically prevent any fatigue factor from kicking in.

Q. What all have you been doing different from say last year?
RORY SABBATINI: Well, I've never really had an in-season exercise program. This year it's been pretty consistent, two full workouts a week, plus daily workouts to get ready to go out in the round.

Q. Cardio stuff mostly?
RORY SABBATINI: Actually, no, just a lot of isometrics, rubber bands.

Q. You're doing like the Immelman ones, the rubber band things that you can tie onto the doorknobs and take with you, different sizes?
RORY SABBATINI: Well, I have my trainer with me, so he basically regiments it and changes it up according to things we need to work on.

Q. Not a Bowflex(tm) machine?
RORY SABBATINI: No, I'm not traveling around with one of those, no.

Q. Last week in New York there was one point, I remember catching the audio of it as you were walking off the green, somebody had said something to you, and in the audio you said, "Say it to my face, buddy." Do you find yourself at times have been people coming after you verbally on the course maybe more so than other players, and why do you think that is?
RORY SABBATINI: I don't think it's particularly me. The way I look at it is, hey, if you have something to say and you don't have the guts to come and say it to my face, then keep your mouth quiet.

Q. What was said?
RORY SABBATINI: It's of no interest. It's history and it's over and done with.

Q. But do you find yourself -- are you unable to kind of just focus on the golf? You hear things more than other players? Are you aware of that?
RORY SABBATINI: No, I don't think I hear it any more than any other players do, I just -- the guy made a rude comment while it was quiet out there and we were walking off the green. It was pretty easy to hear. Maybe I'm just more outspoken in the fact that I'll actually confront the person.

Q. Outspokenness has been a double-edged sword for you, hasn't it?
RORY SABBATINI: No, actually the media has been the double-edged sword in the fact that I'll make a statement and they tend to paraphrase it to their liking and change it. You know, if anybody actually had bothered going back and reading transcripts from previous interviews, they would understand what I said instead of just going with the paraphrasing and following that lead.
You know, I'll say that the media has really put a very bitter taste in my mouth.

Q. Do you suppose that's because of the fact that you speak up or that you speak out on certain topics and no one else really takes a stance publicly on anything, so therefore -- because I haven't disagreed with anything you've said all year. I think you've been right.
RORY SABBATINI: Understand, I'm generalizing. I'm not saying every member of the media.

Q. I know, I don't feel that way.
RORY SABBATINI: The situation is I speak my mind. People always say they want something different; you get me, you get something different, and then they burn you for it. So what do you want, do you want different or do you want the usual fraternal player out here? You guys need to pick and choose what you want. If you want your generic standard answer, hey, I can spend all day long here and talk generic answer with you. But that's not the person I am.
You know, if the situation continues where people continue to burn me and manipulate what I say into what they want to turn it into, I'm just not going to bother talking. That's why, you guys have got to pick and choose what you want.

Q. Fair enough.
RORY SABBATINI: You make me out to look like the bad guy when I've done nothing but ever actually, in a sense, praised Tiger because I've seen Tiger at his best. I'm the first one to admit, when Tiger is on his game, there's hardly -- I don't know if there is a person that plays on the PGA TOUR or anywhere in the world that can beat him, and I've said that repeatedly.

Q. When you said what you said, he had just blown a three-shot lead with six holes to go at Wachovia. I thought, you know what, he's making a valid point.
RORY SABBATINI: But the thing is people don't see that as a valid point. Apparently he's a celestial being that you can't touch. That's the way I see it.

Q. If you were Gary Player, who would you pick to take on Tiger at the Presidents Cup in the singles?
RORY SABBATINI: Why not pick me?

Q. I think that's what he's asking you.
RORY SABBATINI: Why not pick me? I would pick myself.

Q. Nick O'Hern, pretty good record against Tiger in match play.
RORY SABBATINI: Apparently -- maybe it would make for good TV ratings, and as I said earlier this year, if I win, I look great; and if I lose, I took one for the team. So it's a win-win situation for me.

Q. Probably unfair to ask you actually.

Q. You've played in that thing before, correct?
RORY SABBATINI: No, this is my first Presidents Cup.

Q. How much input do the players have from what you've heard, I guess, into who plays whom? Do Jack and Gary actually listen or do they just do what they want?
RORY SABBATINI: Well, only --

Q. If you went in there and said I want this guy, I want that guy, I want that guy, do you get what you want?
RORY SABBATINI: But then I'm assuming I'm playing every match (laughing).

Q. At this point that's a safe assumption the way you're playing.
RORY SABBATINI: The situation is as far as I know, I've been asked if I had a problem with playing with a certain person as my alternate shot partner. I said, no, we obviously have a good record. Ian Baker-Finch came up to me last week on Sunday and told me he had another player come up and ask to play with me in the best ball, and I said sure. That's about the only input I've had so far.

Q. Do you think the team of South Africans could pretty much beat the Americans straight up? What do you have, four on the team, and a bunch more guys in the hopper with Schwartzel and et cetera, et cetera?
RORY SABBATINI: That's the beauty about golf is golf is so unpredictable, and on any given day, any player can beat any other player. You see it every week on TOUR here. With the exception of a few players, you don't see a lot of repeat winners every year because it gets tougher and tougher.
You know, you can play consistently two weeks in a row, win one event, and the next week not even be in the Top 10. That's how the beauty of golf works.
On paper, yes, you look at the International Team and you think it's a given that we're going to destroy the U.S. Team, but that's not the way it works. The way it works is you've got to figure your team chemistry out, you've got to figure your pairings out well, and it's also how the guy plays on the day.
You've seen any given player here hit -- as Woody Austin said at the PGA, he hit the ball better than Tiger on the day Tiger shot 63. That's quite possible because there's days out here where any given player can go out and hit the ball as good as they've ever hit it and shoot even par, and there's days you go out there and hit it awful and shoot 4- or 5-under because that's how golf works. It's not how you hit it but getting it in the hole.

Q. There's been a lot of outspoken players over the years that have gone on to careers in broadcasting because their outspokenness has served them well. Do you see yourself maybe after you're done playing golf joining the media?
RORY SABBATINI: You know, the funny thing is there's very few golf announcers I can actually really watch and listen to. I generally watch golf in muted form.

Q. Really?
RORY SABBATINI: Because there's nothing I can't stand more than -- especially if you go back and watch video of yourself hitting a shot, and the commentator is going, well, I would have done it this way. Well, everybody does things differently.
You know, I don't know if I'll go on to commentating or what. Maybe I'll be the Fulton Allem of commentating, commentating on the Women's U.S. Open or something, make it real interesting to watch.
I don't know, my goal is to play out here, enjoy myself, and when my time comes, disappear and go do something else afterwards, go spend time with the kids, whatever. I have no set plans for the future because I'm focused on now.
STEWART MOORE: Thanks for taking the time. Good luck this week.

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