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March 4, 2011

Rory Sabbatini


JOHN BUSH: Rory Sabbatini joins us here at The Honda Classic after a 6-under par 64. Rory, on this golf course, in those conditions, just a phenomenal round. If we can get your comments.
RORY SABBATINI: Well, after the way I struggled yesterday and just trying to get in at 1-over, I tell you what, I wasn't exactly looking forward to getting out there today. I knew the conditions were going to be tough and they were expecting maybe even a little tougher than yesterday. You know, crazy things happen. Put the ball in the right spots a few times and make a couple of putts, and all of a sudden you stop worrying about everything and you just start trying to make some more birdies.
JOHN BUSH: Take us through the round if you can. You were 1-under par through eight holes and really got it going starting with a birdie on No. 9.
RORY SABBATINI: No. 9, I hit my driver in the fairway. I think I had like 163 yards left. I hit a 5-iron to about six feet past the hole and made the putt coming back.
11, I'm trying to remember all the holes -- trust me, my brain is windblown. I hit 3-wood off the tee, center of the fairway, had I think 162 to the hole. Hit a 9-iron to about ten feet behind the hole.
13, I hit driver, left side of the fairway. Hit 6-iron just to the back left fringe from about I think 168 yards or so and rolled -- I putted in it from the fringe from about 25 feet.
14, hit 3-wood in the right rough. Had 172 front. I don't know what we had hole because my caddie never gave me that info. I hit 7-iron and hit it to about four feet just past left of the hole. Made the putt.
15, I hit 5-iron from I think it was playing 163, 164 yards, something like that. Hit 5-iron to 15 feet just left of the hole. Made the putt from there.

Q. Looks like you had 42 putts over the first two rounds or something like that, incredibly low number. Have you ever putted as well here or anywhere?
RORY SABBATINI: I don't know. I've played this course once before Wednesday, and that was in Ernie Els' charity deal that he had out here. I really didn't remember the course much.
You know, the conditions are tough and I think luckily for me, it makes it a little easier on me because I put a lot of pressure on myself on the greens to make putts. Because of the windy know it's going to be tougher so I think I'm a little bit more relaxed with myself on the greens.

Q. How did the conditions compare with yesterday? Pretty much the same?
RORY SABBATINI: Earlier on, I would say the first three or four holes, it was a little less apparent than it was yesterday, but after that, it picked up and it's still blowing pretty good out there. There's a couple gusts that are coming through that you look at our three drives on 18, and there was 60 yards between D.A.'s and Robert's, and that was just a matter of hitting one hitting into a gust and one hitting it when it calmed a little bit. It's quite apparent out there.

Q. You said your birdie on 9, you said you had 163 yards with a 5-iron and then a couple holes later, 163 yards with a 9-iron; difference of being upwind and downwind; how much are you having to add into a facing wind -- is it guessing?
RORY SABBATINI: Most of it's guessing. Fortunately for me I grew up playing in the wind, so I'm kind of used to kind of feeling the shot out a little bit.
I would say into the wind, you're definitely adding at least two to 2 1/2 clubs and downwind, the crazy thing is, the 11th hole is the most bizarre thing. The ball doesn't seem to carry on that hole. I noticed it three days in a row where the ball doesn't really seem to get carried by the wind.
So that hole is deceptive but I would say downwind you're looking at probably, I would say 1 1/2 clubs.

Q. Every golfer goes through up-and-downs out here. Just talk about your game. You were second last year to start the year. Since then, just talk about your game and how you've played.
RORY SABBATINI: I'm actually very happy with my game right now. Actually TaylorMade introduced some new irons this year, and funnily enough, as soon as I hit them, I knew I had found my new set of irons. Probably the best-feeling set of irons I've had in my bag for at least five, six, seven years, at least.
I feel really confident with them and that definitely helps your ball-striking. Obviously their new woods are really good, the R11s and Burners are really good. I found a good combination in the bag, and that's just kind of helped boost my confidence with my ball-striking.
And then funnily enough, on Wednesday, I put a new putter in the bag. I've been putting well all year. I just felt like I had not been making anything. So I put that putter back in the closet and put a new TaylorMade Ghost putter in the bag, and it's been working wonders so far this week.

Q. One of those white ones?

Q. How often do you change putters?
RORY SABBATINI: I used to change them pretty quickly but of late I have not really been changing them very much. I think this was a good choice.

Q. When did you switch to the Norman-style lid?
RORY SABBATINI: I think the first time I used it last year was San Jose for the Fry's.

Q. Any reason? Just like the look?
RORY SABBATINI: No. Had to have a piece of my face cut out.

Q. Skin cancer?
RORY SABBATINI: Yeah, started wearing this, because a normal hat does not cover the side of your face. So started to wear this to cover the side of my face to protect myself.

Q. You said your brain was a little wind blown; what does two days in this wind do physically?
RORY SABBATINI: Well, it will wear you out. I'm really looking forward to my workout with my trainer this afternoon now that you mention it. (Laughter).
No, there's no skipping it. That's the point of it. That's why we work out; so you can get your endurance levels up and your strength levels up. That way, the fatigue factor does not kick in as severely mentally for you.
I'm feeling pretty good. Obviously it's easier to come off a round shooting 6-under and feeling good. But yesterday in the conditions, I felt good all the way through the round. I felt good all the way today.
So I think it's just a matter of endurance out there, making sure just kind of pace yourself. I think mentally is going to be the toughest part out there, because being able to accept a bogey out there, you've got to realize, everyone is making bogeys.
The course is playing extremely tough. The conditions are severe, and everyone is going to make mistakes. Nobody is above it this week. You are just going to have to be patient out there and realize that's going to happen. Just try and make sure you eliminate the big numbers.

Q. Just wondering, would you take 6-under now and for Sunday night, sitting where you are?
RORY SABBATINI: I would take even par for the next two days for sure.

Q. You worked with the Titleist Performance Institute I think before and they did quite a lot of work on your posture and things like that; are you still with them?
RORY SABBATINI: No. I've never actually done any work with TPI. All my work has been done with Back Nine Performance which is Jeff Banaszak and his group of guys.

Q. At this level, where all of the players are really good, how much, if at all, does growing up playing in the wind help?
RORY SABBATINI: I definitely think it's beneficial on weeks like this, because you know, to stand up there at 150 yards and you're looking at it going, well, geez, is it a 6-iron or a 5-iron; factor that in, for your brain to actually accept that, for me it comes down to I've been in that, I've played in it, and I know exactly how to kind of control the ball in that situation.
So it makes it easier for me to feel my way around the golf course. If you're a very technical golfer, it's going to be a little more difficult out there today, because trying to factor in all of these varying conditions right now into something that's very technical is going to be tough to do.

Q. Durban, is that where it is you're from?

Q. How close is that to the water?
RORY SABBATINI: My golf course is about a mile.

Q. So similar?
RORY SABBATINI: Oh, yeah. I grew up playing in -- you know, we had lots of days where it was as windy as this consistently, but not quite, but still windy.

Q. You're in Texas now and you probably picked up on the significance of the black hat in the cowboy movie as the bad guy; is that villain role ever anything you've enjoyed or you enjoy now? Is there anything to that?
RORY SABBATINI: No, I don't enjoy it. Because actually, you know, I'm a passionate person, I love the game of golf. I have my good moments. I have my bad moments. I wish I could eliminate the bad moments; I'm working to.
I've never appreciated that. Never enjoyed that. You know, it's just something that kind of has been, or should I say, cast upon me. It is what it is. My friends know who I am and so that's what I go by.

Q. But there is a part of your personality that's never backed down from anything either; you've always been a confident guy and just been who you are.
RORY SABBATINI: If I have an opinion on something, I'm entitled to my opinion just as sure as you are, as sure as everyone is. Your perspective is not the same as mine. But the situation being is, I have my opinions. If you don't like them, you can disagree with them and you can tell me your opinion on something. If yours makes more sense, then I'll agree with it, sure.
I'm not just going to be a sheep and get shepherded around. I'm going to be my own person.

Q. You played well last week; do you feel like you're ready to win again?
RORY SABBATINI: I've been playing well all year and I've felt that it's been close and it's been getting there. Each week has kind of been a building block, and you know, the game is feeling really good. I would say probably I'm most confident I've been with the putter in a really long time, so that's a key factor for me right there.

Q. Other than the hat and diligence on the sunscreen, do you have to change your routine in any way to make sure that you don't get a recurrence? You ladled on that sunscreen for years.
RORY SABBATINI: Yeah, but apparently it wasn't the good stuff. It's just the situation. Like last week in México, going down by the beach, I'm the one sitting in the shade covered up. My wife is the one sitting in the sun. I'm just being very cautious about it. But the great thing is I think it was a great learning experience for my kids.
Obviously they saw what I had to go through and then my father-in-law had to go through the same procedure last week. So I think it's been a good learning experience for them about being cautious with the sun.

Q. Can I just ask your opinion on something? Your name sake, Rory McIlroy, has been giving his opinion recently about Tiger Woods and his game and how he's fairing at the moment; have you paid much attention to how he's playing and his battles to get himself back where he was?
RORY SABBATINI: Well, you know, golf's a very fickle game. Very simply because it's so mental. It's so much based on a confidence factor and confidence can overcome bad shots all the time.
You know, obviously he's gone through a lot. He's experienced a lot personally and it's never fun to deal with that, and obviously it's affected his on-course performance a little bit and taken his focus away. But you know, I'm sure it will return. I'm sure he'll be back to normal. He'll find his groove. It's never far off; it's like riding a bike. I'm sure he'll be right back on it real soon.

Q. Just so I'm clear, you think 5-under might win this tournament?
RORY SABBATINI: You know what, I would take my chances right now. If I was a betting man, I would say 5-under would be a pretty good situation to be sitting on on Sunday.

Q. Were there any shots yesterday or today where the wind, you misread it, completely fooled you?
RORY SABBATINI: Well, obviously, on 15 -- 16, I guess, I thought the wind would actually bring my ball back left, and my ball kept clean through the wind and went into the bunker. But that's going to happen.

Q. Whether it's gusting or not?
RORY SABBATINI: No, just if you catch a ball just solidly enough, sometimes you can actually get it to carve right through the wind and the wind won't really affect it as much.
That's what you've got to be cautious of. It's the ones when you hit them and just slightly miss them, those are the ones that really worry you because those are the ones you never know where they are going to stop going to.

Q. How much do you have to be careful on this course as well to kind of understand where the wind is blocked by houses and such and all of a sudden halfway through your drive it will all of a sudden get hit by something that you maybe can't see on the tee?
RORY SABBATINI: The only hole I've noticed any kind of wish that going on would be the second hole just because the tee shot when you stand on the tee is very open, but about 15 yards into it, you get the pine trees that do a little blocking with the wind, and that's about the only hole I've really noticed it on. Other than that, there's not really a situation like that out there.
JOHN BUSH: The only bogey of the day No. 6.
RORY SABBATINI: Hit a beautiful drive that cleaned my golf ball in the left water. (Laughter) Had to take a penalty drop. Hit a 3-iron up about -- I think it was about 60 yards from the hole. Hit my 60-degree to about 12 feet and made the putt for a bogey safe. Felt like a par. I think that hole should be a par 5.

Q. It is a par 5?
RORY SABBATINI: I think we should play it as a par 5. (Laughter).

Q. Kuchar doubled it today.
RORY SABBATINI: That's a tough hole. I would say that's probably the nastiest hole on the whole front nine and maybe on the whole course.

Q. Is it a tricky tee shot?
RORY SABBATINI: It's a tricky tee shot because right at the landing distance, if you can hit a driver into the wind, there's a bunker that creeps in so the fairway narrows up right there. I don't think you really want to try and hit a 4-iron out of a fairway bunker into the wind.
JOHN BUSH: Great show today, we appreciate your time. Thank you.

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