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June 2, 2005

Rory Sabbatini


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Rory, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at The Memorial Tournament. Great start to the day, four birdies on the front side, 32, no bogeys, 66 after the first round, good position. Why don't you talk about the day out there. I know there was a weather change as you were making your way around the course.

RORY SABBATINI: Yeah, obviously I was kind of waiting for it to rain on us all day long, but it never came. But the wind was just kind of swirling out there, making conditions a little tougher, and you really had to settle into each shot as it came up and really be decided on what the wind was doing and go with that and really trust it. You couldn't really hit any shots out there that you were indecisive about because this course will penalize you heavily if you do that.

We just really tried to focus on each individual shot and take our time and just really be comfortable and committed to each shot.

Q. How much tougher did it get with the wind? Was it windy right away for you or when did the wind kick up during your round?

RORY SABBATINI: It was pretty much windy the whole time, even warming up on the driving range the wind had already come up. But I think progressively as the day went on, it got just a little bit stronger.

Q. Can we get birdies and bogeys?

RORY SABBATINI: The 3rd hole, I hit a 5 wood off the tee, hit a sand wedge to about probably four feet, made the putt there.

No. 5, hit 3 wood into the left trees, hit a 9 iron into the right rough, hit a wedge to about five feet, made the putt.

6, hit driver in the middle of the fairway, hit sand wedge to about probably about 12 feet, made the putt there.

7, drive in the right rough, hit 6 iron, laid up, hit sand wedge to about five feet.

10, driver in the fairway, hit 7 iron to about 15 feet, made the putt.

17, driver on the left side of the fairway, hit a 5 iron to about 18, 20 feet, made the putt there.

Q. So you birdied half the par 5s, but really didn't do it easily that way.

RORY SABBATINI: You know, for some reason today, my driver just didn't want to find the fairways on the par 5. Then the only fairway I did find on the par 5s was 15.

Q. What happened?

RORY SABBATINI: I hit my second shot just to the back right of the green on the fringe. For some reason the fringes around the greens right now are really getting the ball coming out very hot. I thought I hit a good chip that had a chance to go in and it overly released and went past the hole.

Q. 12 feet?

RORY SABBATINI: Yeah, just burned the top edge.

Q. What did you do on 11?

RORY SABBATINI: 11, drove it in the right rough over the bunker into the trees over there, laid it up, actually hit a good sand wedge that I thought was going to back up close to the hole and just didn't. Good putt again, burned the edge.

Q. On a more important matter, can I buy a pair of pants like that in the pro shop?

RORY SABBATINI: Not this one. I'm sure eventually somebody might have some out there. No, these are I custom make these.

Q. I thought that was one of the hang ups early on in your, quote unquote, discussions with the Tour on wearing those, was whether it could be

RORY SABBATINI: Current golfing attire?

Q. Yeah.

RORY SABBATINI: Well, when the whole situation came up, we were trying to work with the Tour, trying to find a style of pants that would work okay with them, that they felt were reasonable golfing attire in their opinion and what we felt communicated what we wanted to do. It just happened that we went through about 20 different styles of different camouflage pants, and this is the one that they felt was the most appropriate.

Q. And you got that settled when?

RORY SABBATINI: I've been wearing these since THE PLAYERS Championship.

Q. And then you auction them off after each round?

RORY SABBATINI: Well, actually I'm sure that later on in the year they will be auctioned off, obviously to raise money for the charity. We're doing whatever we can with golf shirts and stuff like that, anything we can to try and help this charity.

Q. What's the name of the charity?

RORY SABBATINI: Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

Q. When you say you went three about 20 different styles, what do you mean by "styles"? What would be different, one from the other, with the camouflage?

RORY SABBATINI: Size of the pattern, the color of the patterns, you know, just different variations of it. Actually this material actually came from the military. This is the new marine jungle print camouflage pants that they wear. Obviously not the same style with the same print.

Q. The Tour had to be satisfied that it was okay?

RORY SABBATINI: They wanted to feel it was something that would be okay to wear. Their feeling was that they wanted something that if I wore them into any country club around the country that it would probably be okay.

Q. Did you throw Jesper back at them for an argument?

RORY SABBATINI: The whole situation came up for the best. The Tour has really done their best to work with me on this. They even have come up with some great ideas to help support the charity. I think everything that has occurred with this is just it's long gone. It's over and done with. So we came to an agreement on these, and I'm just happy to be out here wearing them.

Q. What does the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund do?

RORY SABBATINI: It was started up to raise funds for the families of men and women that were killed in action over in Iraq and Afghanistan, and basically the compensation for the government is pretty pitiful when it comes to helping support families that have had men and women fall in action. Basically this was formed to help try and raise funds. They provide in certain cities living arrangements for families, they provide funding for the families, educational funding.

Basically it was to try and help them maybe get some more recognition and have some more people support them because my wife and I saw this and we really believed in it being a good cause and for some really good people that needed a lot of help.

Q. Did you have a personal connection to a soldier or something that prompted you to join on a personal level?

RORY SABBATINI: No, I don't think there's anything in particular that there's no personal connection other than my wife's family has always been a military family. Her dad was in Vietnam. It wasn't anything personal that really attracted us to it. It was something that we actually read an article in an airline magazine, and my wife brought the clipping and said, "you need to look at this." We had been looking for a charity that really meant a lot to us. When I read this, both of us really felt strongly about it and it was something we could really understand and we could understand the feeling of loss for them, and it's something that really just touched us deeply.

Q. When was the first time you wore any kind of a model of camouflage pants?

RORY SABBATINI: Actually the first time I wore any type of camouflage pants was at the Phoenix Open this year.

Q. Will you wear this every day of the tournament?

RORY SABBATINI: No, it's actually just every Thursday, every week that I play on Tour. But the birdies and the eagles continue throughout the week, Thursday through Sunday.

Q. What is that, $100 for birdie

RORY SABBATINI: $250 for birdie and $1,000 for an eagle. We figured we were up somewhere in the Hall of Fame keeps track of this, but I think we were somewhere in the region of $34,000 or $35,000.

Q. And have you auctioned anything yet?

RORY SABBATINI: No, we're actually working with the administrators of the charity to try and find ways to best work with them to try and promote it and do it at the right events in the right situations.

Q. Did you say it was camouflage pants material or the actual print?

RORY SABBATINI: It's the same material. It's a heavy cotton. It's not exactly the most comfortable material to be wearing on the golf course, but I'm willing to forego a little bit of comfort.

Q. Have you gotten much reaction from people or people that have someone in Iraq?

RORY SABBATINI: Yes, I have. I think there's obviously different reactions out there. You get some people that don't understand the reasoning behind it and I'll go walking by, and they'll go, "nice pants," and they'll kind of chuckle. Then there are people that have read about it, do understand it, and I get a lot of comments going, "thanks a lot, my son, my niece, my nephew, whatever, is over in Iraq, my grandson." Those are the people that appreciate it and understand what's behind it, and those are the people I'm doing it for, for the families and for the people that really care about everyone that's over there.

Q. How did you hit the ball today, just trying to get back to golf?

RORY SABBATINI: Actually I didn't feel like I was hitting the ball that great out there today. I'd say I had a "C" game but I had my "A" course management going. I think any time you have your course management working well, I think you're going to be okay out there. I think most of the guys out here on Tour hit the ball well enough that even if they have an average day, as long as they're figuring their way around the course, they're going to come out of it fine. Luckily for me I got a few good bounces and I made the putts when I had the opportunity.

Q. Is this a golf course you have felt in the past suits your game? Do you like playing this course, you feel like you have a good week when you come here?

RORY SABBATINI: Obviously I like the golf course. The greens run I think as true as any greens we play on on Tour. I think the situation is if you hit the ball in the fairways and put the ball in the right places and make some putts, you're going to do fine. Obviously some of the changes on the course here have made it a lot tougher. They may be minor changes, but it's amazing how different some of the holes are playing out there. That's just it was a little bit of an adjustment there.

But it's a course that I feel very comfortable on. I think it definitely suits a long hitter, and I think a person that has imagination around the greens is definitely a requirement on this course.

Q. Can you give a couple of examples maybe on holes that are playing differently, even though maybe we don't see a big change that Jack made to it?

RORY SABBATINI: Well, you know, I know No. 9 doesn't seem like he made that big of a change. I think he only moved the tee six yards back, but he also moved it further left. So visually that hole before, as opposed to before I'd stand up there and aim it down the left side and cut it all day long. Now it actually takes a little bit more of a precise tee shot because the visual setup of the hole gives you more view down the right side than you've ever had, and now you actually need to try and keep it more left than you think.

Q. Did you get any reaction to the pants today? Anybody say anything to you today?

RORY SABBATINI: Well, mostly today I had a lot of the "nice pants" with the chuckling followed and everything like this. I think mostly it's just people that don't understand what's behind it. I kind of just go, "thanks a lot," and keep walking. I'm not going to let it bother me. I think when they realize actually the fun that they may be making of me, if they actually realized what was behind it, they may actually feel worse than I could ever have felt or more embarrassed than I would ever have felt with that.

Q. Is there a web address or a website for your fund that you're doing this for, the charity?

RORY SABBATINI: Yeah, I believe it's www.intrepidfallenheroesfund.com.

Q. What was your father in law's reaction, you talked about him being in Vietnam, to your wearing the pants on Thursdays?

RORY SABBATINI: He's very much in support of it, even though he doesn't do a lot of talking about his experiences. Obviously I think that's a tough thing for him. I think he appreciates it, my wife and I really care about it, and that's really what it's about is just giving back to the people that are out there trying to keep us safe.

Q. Didn't your wife she's pregnant now, right?

RORY SABBATINI: Yes, she's a little over seven months.

Q. Didn't she bust her ankle or something here?

RORY SABBATINI: She hurt her ankle pretty badly last week. I was out in or gone doing an event for Nike, and she took a little spill and kind of wrecked her ankle. We're not sure whether or not she has a fracture, but she was tough out there today. She walked all 18 holes.

Q. She did?

RORY SABBATINI: Yes. I told her to stay at home.

Q. This fund, do you handle any of it yourself or are you just publicizing it or what are the mechanics of that, please?

RORY SABBATINI: Well, we actually do a lot of work with regards to the publicity side. We'll be doing a lot of work with their public relations department. A lot of it right now is still fairly new because we've just started it, but this is something that we obviously try and find as many ways to expand it I'm trying to find companies that will maybe match what I donate or something like that. We're trying to find any angle we can to try and help raise funds for this charity.

Q. Any other golfers involved in this?

RORY SABBATINI: Actually not directly in this charity. I know Phil is involved with a different military charity. Frank Lickliter is also involved in one. I'm pretty certain there's three going right now.

Q. You said you were surprised at the lack of funds that I guess the families received. Did you ever try to contact the government or anybody, write anybody, The Pentagon or The President or anything like that?

RORY SABBATINI: Actually one of the things that was so funny was when a lot of this actually came about, I know President Bush came back and went to Congress proposing better funding for the families because I think his realization, too, was that it was pretty poor. I don't know exactly what has occurred with that, but I know that he had attempted to take that to Congress.

Q. Did you wear a pair of pants before that was approved by the PGA or something? What's the background there?

RORY SABBATINI: I just happened to wear a pair at the Phoenix Open this year, and then obviously there was some discussion with the Tour the following week. I didn't wear them for a couple weeks because they felt that the pattern that I was using was a little overboard, so this is where we went through trying to find all the different fabrics to try to find a pair or a pattern that would be a little less intrusive on the eye.

Q. Do you have different patterns that are approved, or is that the only one?

RORY SABBATINI: Well, this one, and then I have the desert one, which is more just khaki and light khaki.

Q. Is this the best you've done in those pants?

RORY SABBATINI: Actually, yes, so far this year (laughter).

Q. When did you come back out after the Tour discussion and wear them? Do you recall what event that was?

RORY SABBATINI: Yeah, it was THE PLAYERS Championship.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Rory, for joining us.

End of FastScripts.

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