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January 13, 2008

Rory Sabbatini


STEWART MOORE: We'd like to welcome our runner-up to this year's Sony Open in Hawai'i to the interview room. Great playing today, very difficult conditions, 68, though. You had the double bogey on 8 and then really fought back. Just talk a little bit about the round out there today.
RORY SABBATINI: Well, obviously Waialae showed its teeth today. It's obviously a golf course that played fairly timid all week long, and even though the rough was up, it kept the scoring relatively high for this tournament. It showed its teeth today, and it kind of brought the field back a little bit. So it really played to its true nature.
STEWART MOORE: With a runner-up finish today, 2700 FedExCup points, another successful year, hopefully off to a good start.
RORY SABBATINI: Definitely. All things considered, especially after the last two weeks, I'm obviously extremely happy about my new equipment. It's performing even better than I could have imagined with as short of an adjustment period as we had to get used to it. It kind of gives me a lot of confidence going into the rest of the year and it gives me a lot to look forward to.

Q. What did you do to make six birdies today in these conditions?
RORY SABBATINI: Actually, you know, you keep hitting shots on the greens, and these greens are pretty true. They run pretty well for Bermuda greens. You know, you give yourself enough looks, you're going to make some putts out there. I definitely gave myself enough opportunities today.

Q. On 8, I think I heard on TV, was that a 2-iron off the tee into a tree hazard?
RORY SABBATINI: Yeah, I hit a 2-iron off the tee. Driver was too much club there today, and 2-iron has been going pretty typically down this golf course around 300 yards with the rollout. That was the number that we were looking for, and unfortunately I didn't execute the shot that I wanted to. I just kind of smothered it and laid it up in the creek.

Q. At that point, and you knew what you faced at the start of the day obviously, a six-shot deficit, I guess. I know you're not giving up at that point, but what are your thoughts on the tournament? You can't afford a double obviously when you're six shots behind.
RORY SABBATINI: When you're six shots behind you've got to go low and post a number up there. There were two things that needed to happen today for someone else other than K.J. to win, and that was for K.J. to lose a few shots back to the field and for someone to go low. He kind of did his part and kind of brought himself back towards us a little bit, but the ones of us that were chasing unfortunately failed to do our jobs and go low enough to maybe change the outcome.

Q. With K.J. four ahead, when you saw the conditions this morning before teeing off, what sort of number did you have in mind for yourself?
RORY SABBATINI: I didn't really go out there with any particular number in mind. I knew I needed to go out there and play well and make as many birdies as I could because on this golf course in these conditions it's inevitable you're going to make a bogey or two out there. You know, I just knew I needed to put the ball in the fairways, put it on the greens and give myself some birdie opportunities. I got off to a good start but obviously had a few little mishaps on the way. Unfortunately it just left me a little too shy.

Q. I probably should know this, but where did you finish last week?

Q. But nevertheless, four Top 10s to end the year last year and a Top 2 here, you're turning into a machine as far as contention. Even with new clubs, how do you feel about that? Is it giving you confidence even more that you just picked up some new clubs and you're sort of picking up where you left off last year?
RORY SABBATINI: Definitely. Obviously I'm actually extremely excited about the change in equipment. You know, I think the Adams irons are quite potentially the best irons I've ever hit, and I've hit a pretty broad spectrum of the irons, what Adams considers their game-improvement irons. In my opinion they perform pretty well. They perform like pretty good precision instruments out there.
And then the driver and the ball combination has just been phenomenal. Obviously the driver, I'm hitting it well, it feels good, and my confidence is probably about as high in my driving as it has been. Between that and the irons, I continue to hit the ball as well as I felt I've hit it the last two weeks, and I'm definitely looking forward to the rest of the year.

Q. Do you wish now you were playing Hope?
RORY SABBATINI: No. Actually, you know, I'm pretty content to have -- I'm staying over here for a couple more days and then going to go straight from here to San Diego. I'm going to enjoy myself, have a little bit of relaxation. It was kind of a busy schedule at the end of last year, and I'm looking forward to a week off here.

Q. You got some pretty good looks at wins over here, Kapalua and here, as well. When you think about Hawai'i, is it kind of discouraging that you haven't been able to do it, or does it make you feel optimistic?
RORY SABBATINI: Obviously it makes me feel optimistic. At the same time, I've worn the bridesmaid's gear three times now. I'm looking forward to one of these times getting in the winner's circle over here.

Q. How long have you been in Hawai'i this trip?
RORY SABBATINI: This is four weeks now.

Q. That's a great trip.
RORY SABBATINI: Definitely. What better place to start the year off than in Maui and in Sony? I enjoy being here. I think this golf course here at Waialae is probably one of the consummate classic golf courses, and I think it's a very fair golf course but I think at the same time it's extremely tough golf course. So it takes a lot of concentration, a lot of discipline out here on this golf course, and it definitely obviously shows why K.J. is doing so well here.

Q. You've won before, but coming off last season, contention in majors and four on the Money List, thereabouts --
RORY SABBATINI: Yes, I think five or six or the Money List.

Q. How important is it to back that up immediately?
RORY SABBATINI: You know, obviously very intent on trying to continue to improve my game and continue to improve my consistency. You know, obviously the start to this year is a good sign of things to come, and hopefully I can continue to build on this week and last week and maybe get in that winner's circle fairly soon again here.

Q. Any adjustments to your schedule this year?
RORY SABBATINI: Actually, no. Other than skipping AT & T on the West Coast, everything else on the West Coast is pretty much the same as it always has been.

Q. Through the majors, majors prep the same?
RORY SABBATINI: Yeah, pretty much the same.

Q. Do you play the week before?
RORY SABBATINI: I don't know what the schedule is. I play the tournaments I like to play, so that's what I'm going to continue to do.

Q. Can I get the iron on 16 real quick?
RORY SABBATINI: On 16, into the green? That was a sand wedge.
STEWART MOORE: On that note, do you mind going through your birdies briefly today?
RORY SABBATINI: Sure. No. 1, I hit driver off the tee, hit a 6-iron to about six feet, made birdie.
No. 3, hit 2-iron off the tee, hit a sand wedge to about two feet.
No. 5, hit driver off the tee, hit a 9-iron just right of the green, chipped it to about 10, 12 feet, missed it.
No. 8, hit 2-iron in the creek, hit a 7-iron in the greenside bunker, hit it to about ten feet and missed that.
No. 9, hit driver off the tee, hit 6-iron to about 30 feet, two-putted it.
No. 11, hit a 7-iron to about ten feet, made that.
13, hit driver off the tee, hit a 9-iron to about 30 feet, made that.
15, hit 3-iron off the tee, hit a wedge in the greenside bunker from the rough, left it on the fringe and chipped it and made bogey.
16, hit 3-iron off the tee, hit a sand wedge to about five feet, six feet, made birdie.

Q. Speaking of wind, is cross-wind probably the hardest?
RORY SABBATINI: I'd say this course, it's one of those courses where the wind -- even though it's remaining from a pretty consistent direction, the wind coming through the trees can kind of buffer the ball a little bit directions-wise, and it definitely makes it tough. We kind of figured out the easiest way to avoid having to deal with most of that today is try and keep the ball as close to the ground as possible.

Q. Is this the most mentally testing of any of the eight rounds in Hawai'i this year?
RORY SABBATINI: By far. In these conditions, this isn't even what you'd consider the typical tradewind here. This wind is one I've never really seen on this golf course before, and it made this course play extremely tough. It changed a lot of your viewpoints, a lot of your angles that you were accustomed to, what you had today. So you definitely had to kind of readjust your game plan out there.

Q. One other thing. I think there was a quote from you last week that you basically want to let your clubs do the talking, your game do the talking. Do you feel like this is part of that statement?
RORY SABBATINI: Well, I definitely feel that the equipment that I'm using, the Adams irons, the Callaway ball, I think they suit me very well. I think they're by far the best equipment I've ever played. For it to only be my second event into a new product I'm extremely excited and looking forward to the rest of the year. I think what they've shown me the past two weeks has been absolutely phenomenal. I'm going to let people be the judge of my performance.

Q. Including practice rounds, how many rounds of golf have you played since you got to Hawai'i?
RORY SABBATINI: You might want to ask my wife that question. I've probably played all but about four days.

Q. And then you're going to leave when?
RORY SABBATINI: I think we leave Friday.

Q. Is that normal for you if you were to come on a vacation like this, or is this part of getting used to the clubs?
RORY SABBATINI: No, my wife, it kind of drives her nuts. We get to Maui and I'm ready to go to the golf course. There's something about being over here that just gives me golfing fever. I enjoy the weather, I enjoy the people, and what more of a spectacular place to start the year than the islands.

Q. Will you play between now and when you leave Friday?
AMY SABBATINI: Yes. He'll take me to play actually. He's not allowed to play. I'm going to play.
STEWART MOORE: Rory, thanks so much for coming in.

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