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March 5, 2011

Rory Sabbatini


DOUG MILNE: We'll go ahead and get started. You have a big day planned for tomorrow, Rory. Thanks for joining us today. Quite the convincing 4-under 66, especially with the condition in the wind, which you certainly didn't back down after yesterday. Just some thoughts on the round now that you're done today and how you're feeling as we're heading into tomorrow, final round here at The Honda Classic.
RORY SABBATINI: Feeling really good. I'm hitting the ball nicely. Kind of limiting the big mistakes, which is key out there, especially in the tough conditions. Yeah, hitting the ball nicely and getting it on the greens.
You know, the putting has just been doing great for me all week. It's been really taking charge and keeping things going.

Q. Tell us again why you changed putters?
RORY SABBATINI: You know, I've been putting well you'll year. I just didn't feel like I was making anything. I hit a lot of good putts and sometimes just changing the look of things, changing the feel of things, can kind of just spur something out of it, and it seems to have worked this week.

Q. How different is this putter than what you had before?
RORY SABBATINI: Very different. This is a face-balanced putter, more of a mallet-style and bent neck going in. So quite different. But it's something that I messed around a little bit last week with while I was down in México and really like the feel of it. Never used it during a tournament. But I like the feel of it.
And then this week, decided to put it in the bag.

Q. Given the course, the conditions, how would you rank the way you're playing the last couple of days to the best golf you've played?
RORY SABBATINI: You know, the funny thing is, I still feel like my best round was Thursday, even though I shot 1-over. I didn't really feel like I struck the ball very well and had to do a lot more grinding. So it was definitely a lot more challenging of a round for me. And to get that round in at 1-over felt better than the last day's round; I seem to have hit the ball better and made it easier on myself. I think being able to get through Thursday the way I did kind of allowed me to relax a little and get things going for Friday, Saturday.

Q. How safe or unsafe do you feel the five-stroke lead is?
RORY SABBATINI: This golf course, it's a tough golf course. You can't be complacent out there, because if you lose focus for a second, it can take shots away in a hurry. I've seen it with my playing partners over the past couple of days. I just have to remain focused on what I've been doing, just trying to keep the ball in the fairway, trying to put it on the green in regulation and just trying to let the putter do the work.

Q. You had kind of a strange wait there at No. 6. Tell us what was going on there from your standpoint? You had things rolling pretty good, and to have to wait I think would be kind of frustrating. What was that like for you?
RORY SABBATINI: It was a little bit of dazed and confused. Got up there and we were following one group and the next thing I know, we have got another player and we're like, okay, where did he come from and trying to figure out what's going on. So it was definitely a very interesting moment.
Yeah, it was fine. Actually I think maybe that might have helped me slow down a little out there. I have a tendency to kind of -- when things get going, to just kind of go with it and allowed me to back off a little bit and kind of refocus again. So I think that was a good thing.

Q. Jerry said you and him are both big talkers and he expects you to both be talking a lot tomorrow.
RORY SABBATINI: Yeah, I've played with Jerry a couple of times in the last couple of weeks, and it's going to be an entertaining day and I'm sure we'll both have some fun out there.

Q. Your putter, when you switched, does it make you better on long putts? You've got like 80 feet or 90 feet of birdie putts today. Is that the reason why you switch?
RORY SABBATINI: You know, the funny thing is, the putter I was using before, I was very confident from ten feet and in with. I had a great conversion ratio inside that distance. But it just felt like those ten to 20-footers, I just really was not getting kind of the performance I was wanting out of it.
But no, I will say this; the TaylorMade Ghost putter that I went to this week, it's been performing fantastically, because they have got this new insert, this pure roll insert, and from the get-go, I've noticed how well it gets on ton of the grass and roll. It seems to roll the ball better on these greens with grain on them and the bermuda; so it seems to be making it easier on me that way.

Q. You had a makeable putt on No. 1 that did not go in. Did you have to kind of regroup there or did you figure, hey, they can't all go in around here?
RORY SABBATINI: We read the putt correctly. I hit a good putt and it just unfortunately bounced. You're going to have that out there, and with tough conditions, you might get a gust of wind that could change a putt drastically.
So you know, it was fine. I just looked at it and said, you know what, that was one that got away but you know what, there will be one that will go in that shouldn't have somewhere along the way.

Q. How do you feel about your record as a frontrunner, have they come as a leader or come-from-behind?
RORY SABBATINI: I don't know. I don't have the answer to that. I don't know -- I don't know how my. I'd take Tiger's record. (Laughter).
The situation is, I've got to go out there tomorrow and I've got to be focused and ready to go. And you know, I can't expect the field to give the tournament to me, because that's not going to happen. There are going to be guys that are going to come forward and challenge and I've got to be ready to step up to that challenge and continue to make it tough on them.

Q. The skin cancer that you had, was it serious? How far along was it and are you doing any PSAs or anything or public service announcements for skin cancer and anti- skin cancer awareness things?
RORY SABBATINI: Well, actually, the stage it was, it was squamous cell carcinoma. So it was pretty severe. It wasn't to the melanoma stage, but it was close.
Yeah, it's serious enough that it scared me pretty well. It was just actually kind of fortuitous at the same time. There's always been a lot made of me baking on sunblock, but Smart Shield approached me; they are a fantastic sunblock company. They do stuff for the military, NASA, things like that. They are very good. It was just kind of coincidental that all of this occurred at the same time.
It's been a great relationship there so far. Other than that, it's just I've got to be very cautious out there and we're looking at maybe setting up a foundation that helps people that are underprivileged and come across skin cancer, so it's something that we are looking at.

Q. So does that have a special SPF or value, or is there something different about it makes it better than other sunblocks?
RORY SABBATINI: Unlike other sunblocks, it's not a sunblock with a moisturizer in it. This is a moisturizer with a sunblock in it and it's aloe-based; so that the ph level is the same as your skin.
Just very good, complete care and coverage that you could want and the great thing is it comes in all different forms. I know women, especially, like it because they can put it on underneath their makeup (smiling).

Q. We know that's the reason you wear the hat, but how many hats do you have and what color are you going to wear tomorrow?
RORY SABBATINI: I have seven here with me. I don't know, I haven't even figured out what I'm having for dinner, so I don't know what I'm doing tomorrow yet. (Laughter).
I'll figure that out between some point now and 7:00 am tomorrow morning.

Q. Have you had a ball in the water this week?
RORY SABBATINI: Yeah, I did, on 5 yesterday.

Q. What's been the secret for you kind of navigating the Bear Trap? A lot of guys are just coming unglued there?
RORY SABBATINI: It's just being cautious, but still picking a safe shot, but being aggressive to that shot.
So you're not getting up and trying to be defensive and make a it defensive swing. You still have to make an aggressive swing and commit your short. So I'm basically picking safe targets and just really committing to that and hitting an aggressive shot to that.

Q. When you get into that area tomorrow with the lead and things like that, how does the mental battle go on a Sunday? Is it different? Is it harder to commit? Are you so confident right now that it's just going to be kind of the same shot?
RORY SABBATINI: You've got to play smart. There's no doubt about it. You have to be cautious and you have to give those holes their respect. You can't go into them and go, okay, well I'm going to fire at the stick and make birdie because realistically your chance of pulling that off are highly weighed against you. You just try and put the ball in the middle of the green and hopefully you make a putt; if you don't, it's an easy par.

Q. For you, in general, is there much of a difference between being the pursuer and the pursue-ee?
RORY SABBATINI: Yeah, you'd better be able to run fast every if you're being chased.

Q. Villegas won here last year at 13-under and we didn't think we would see somebody that hot on this course again for a while. Did you feel like you had this really kind of strong play coming up as you came into this week?
RORY SABBATINI: I played well last week. I got off to an atrocious start and came back and fought my way back.
So you know I knew I had it in me. I've been putting up some decent numbers all year being pretty consistent with my ball-striking and with my scoring. So you know, it's definitely been there. I've just been trying to build on each week and trying to build on the things that have been working.
As I said yesterday, I've got clubs in my bag that I feel really confident with, and when you have confidence in your equipment, it makes it easier on you.
DOUG MILNE: Rory, we appreciate your time very much. Keep it up.

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