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March 9, 2011

Rory Sabbatini


JOHN BUSH: We welcome Rory Sabbatini into the interview room at the World Golf Championships Cadillac Championship. It's been a good few days for you, if you would first of all look back at your win last week in Palm Beach Gardens.
RORY SABBATINI: Obviously all I can say is, what a golf course. Fantastic golf course, challenging from the time you hit your first tee shot to the time the final putt goes in. It's a great golf course, great design. The superintendent and his whole staff did a fantastic job of prepping the course. It was a challenging week. Y.E., J.K., there were a lot of guys that played some impressive golf; Graeme McDowell on Sunday, what a fantastic round.
It was just a great week, very rewarding week and happy to have been there.
JOHN BUSH: Now back at Doral, talk a little about this golf course that you'll see this week.
RORY SABBATINI: Again another fantastic golf course. You know, obviously it's great to be here. You want to be in these World Golf Championship events, and it's just phenomenal to be here. This is again another golf course that rewards good ball-striking and once you get that done, you really have to putt well on these greens. We have seen in years past, you need to put some good numbers up here to be able to contend. And they have only had a fantastic role call of winners here and I'm looking forward to being out here this week.

Q. It's been a few days now since that 64 on Friday and those wind conditions; have you allowed yourself to think back and say, holy mackerel, I was able to shoot 64 in just horrific conditions.
RORY SABBATINI: Obviously I would definitely sum that up as probably one of the greatest rounds I've ever had in my life, and especially on TOUR. Just an all-around challenging day, all-around challenging week.
As I said, I just really tried to play as smart of golf as I could last week. I knew everyone was going to be making bogeys out there and struggling at some point. Nobody was going to escape without getting tarnished at some point. I really just tried to put the ball in smartest possible positions out there and not be too overly aggressive, and just really take what I could on the downwind holes; into-the-wind holes, really just gear down and focus on trying to eliminate any big numbers.

Q. When you were growing up, I assume Gary Player was the player to look up to for South Africans. Can you talk about Ernie Els's position in South African golf and what he stands for for golfers from your country now at this point in his career?
RORY SABBATINI: Well, exactly, obviously my generation and the generation before me had Gary Player; obviously probably one of the greatest ambassadors for the game of golf and one of the most renowned golfers to ever come out of Africa, let alone South Africa. Phenomenal player.
But Ernie has kind of stepped up to the position for the following generations to really look up to and again, following in Gary's footprint being a great ambassador for the game, obviously a worldwide player, worldwide figure and phenomenal golfer. I think definitely Ernie and Retief have both done a great job with that.
But I think what a lot of people don't see that Ernie does is his charitable side. He's a great philanthropist, he really is. He does a lot of stuff behind the scenes, and also one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.

Q. What do you see that we don't see? What kind of impact has he had in your country in that regard?
RORY SABBATINI: Obviously he's done a lot for the junior golf foundation in South Africa, setting up the Ernie Els Foundation down there, which obviously players like James Kamte have come through, and really provided an opportunity for some players to come through and have this opportunity that they wouldn't have had otherwise. [].
You know, he really has kind of taken on that lead role, especially in South African golf, for bringing through that next wave of golfers.

Q. Five years ago at Congressional, you surprised a lot of people with the thing with Ben Crane. I'm curious, how much have you changed over the last five years? I know you talked about it a little last week in terms of your own demeanor, maturity, whatever.
RORY SABBATINI: My stance on slow play still hasn't changed. I still despise slow play. I think it is disrespectful to the rest of the field. Obviously hopefully I've changed my patience level so I might be a little more patient with that situation.
You know, Ben and I still are friends. I still think the world of him. I think he's a great guy. But, you know, obviously we live and learn. There's things we can and can't change and that's one of the things I can't change and I can only learn from. I guess I use that to try and help myself on the golf course now when there is a situation of having slow play or anything to that regard; just finding a way to kind of distract myself and be a more patient person out there.

Q. Do you find that you have changed much -- are you still the same guy or have you sort of learned to calm down a little bit?
RORY SABBATINI: Ultimately I'm still the same person. I've learned to maybe change my reaction to it. So ultimately, you are always going to be the same person underneath; you just learn to cope with it differently and handle it differently.

Q. Going back to your charity, can you tell us about your involvement with the Birdies for the Brave and the military?
RORY SABBATINI: Obviously it all originated a couple of years ago starting with the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. Obviously as such, they have been able to improve their situation. Obviously the need for them has changed in a sense.
One of the ones that my wife and I are currently involved with is United Through Reading, which facilitates the bond between friends, family members of the military that are deployed for extended periods of time; to have an opportunity to go into different USOs and read a book onto camera, which is copied on a DVD, and the book and the DVD are sent to a child so that they maintain that bond with the family member or friend or aunt or uncle, however it may be, that they can maintain that relationship while they are deployed.
JOHN BUSH: Rory, we appreciate your time. Play well this week.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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