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August 22, 2004

Rory Sabbatini


Q. Rory Sabbatini, one of the only players to challenge Stewart. He had a big lead and played pretty consistent all week, but a good week for you, if we could start with some opening comments.

RORY SABBATINI: Obviously I went out there and I gave it my best out there today. I was going for birdies and trying to put myself in a position to challenge Stewart, but I knew that the way he's been playing, he's been playing solid, hitting the ball solid, and obviously he's had the putter working for him. If you get those characteristics going for you on this course, it's going to be tough to challenge him, let alone catch him. I went out there to do what I could, and that was what I could throw out there.

Q. Not many low scores today. Was the fact that lift, clean and place was not in effect part of that, or was there some other factors?

RORY SABBATINI: Well, obviously not having your

hand on the ball is a big thing out there on this course, but I'd say the biggest difference I noticed out there today was every time you hit it in the rough, when this rough is wet you can get a club to go through it and get the ball to come out, but it was dry and sticky out there today, so every time you hit it in the rough, it really was a major penalty on you.

Q. You talked about a couple what you saw as pivotal holes. What did you see as pivotal holes out there for you?

RORY SABBATINI: Well, obviously I'd say one of the biggest swing changes out there for me would have been on No. 5 sorry, No. 6, the par 4. I hit a good drive, but it ended up left in the trees. Probably the only decent lie in the rough I had all day and had a gap in the trees and hit it to ten feet and ended up making birdie. Obviously any time you go in the rough and swing it around from bogey to birdie is an impressive thing on this course.

I'd say that was the biggest swing in change for me because after that I had two more consecutive birdies after No. 6. I birdied No. 7 and No. 8. That kind of got me back on track and going in the right direction again.

Q. What's your mental state right then, "let's go"?

RORY SABBATINI: The last time I looked at the leaderboard was on the third hole and I made two bogeys on No. 3 and No. 4 and after that point I had gotten to the point where I was like "don't look at the leaderboard, don't focus on what other people are doing, focus on what you're doing." After making three birdies in a row I knew I was going in the right direction. I knew Stewart was probably paying more attention to the leaderboard than I was. I just figured if I kept doing what I was doing and kept hitting some solid golf shots and putting myself in a position where I had birdie putts, I was going to have a chance.

Q. Were you playing more aggressively than you might have ordinarily?

RORY SABBATINI: You know, I wouldn't say I was playing more aggressive than I would ordinarily. You know, it was a situation where I went out there my main focus out there today was I wanted to go make six birdies today, and the reason I had six in mind was because I had an average of four birdies a round. If I can go out there over a week and have my average of four birdies a round, chances are you're going to be in a pretty good position. So that was my biggest focus. After making the two bogeys, I was like, "okay, I just need another five birdies today, let's go ahead and do that."

That's kind of how I kept myself focused out there was mainly focusing on what my goal was.

Q. You mentioned Saturday it might be a little tough catching Stewart Cink. Is it because this golf course being such that he'd have to totally collapse in order for somebody else to win or is a five stroke lead pretty tough

RORY SABBATINI: Personally I don't think there's any five stroke lead on any golf course, let alone this one. This is a course that in the blink of an eye can take four or five shots away from you really fast. It's a matter of hitting two and three bad shots on consecutive holes and the next thing you know you've given away four shots. There's nothing that's a given on this golf course. Ultimately you have to go hit solid golf shots and put yourself in position.

Stewart was obviously in a position this week where he was hitting the ball solid, yesterday putted amazingly, and it wasn't just a freaky event. He's always been a consistent putter. Going into today, as long as he just didn't have a total mind blank out there, he was going to be fine.

Q. You were focusing on making four birdies and you weren't watching the scoreboard. Did you happen to look up at one time and see that you had come within two and did that give you a little shiver or anything?

RORY SABBATINI: Actually, no, I didn't even know I got within two. You know, after the third hole, the next time I looked at the leaderboard, I think it was on 17 green after I had putted out, that was about it. Actually I had no idea I had gotten within two.

Q. Any thoughts on being so close but yet so far, a shot here or a shot there or regrets or anything like that?

RORY SABBATINI: You know, golf is a tough game on you because obviously any time you play golf, you can always look back and go, "what if," here or there. Ultimately coming out of the tournament this week after my performance here last year playing so poorly, to come back and actually put up a good number and be in a position to contend is obviously a great thing. Obviously I could look back and go, yeah, I could have picked up a shot here or there, but there were a lot of opportunities that I didn't deserve but ended up getting a bounce here or there and making a putt here or there. That's the game of golf unfortunately.

Q. It's only human to say "what if," no matter what happens. How do you keep yourself from saying "what if"?

RORY SABBATINI: I'm the king of "what ifs." "What if" is major capital letters of my middle name. Coming in this week I've been struggling with my game this year, and coming into this week, if you would have seen me out here Wednesday hitting the golf ball you would have been wondering which Tour I played on, definitely not the PGA Tour. But I got myself back on track and got myself to focus more on what I wanted to do more than what I didn't want to do.

After the way I played this week, there's definitely a lot of positives coming out of it. I think the "what ifs" this week are going to take second place.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Rory Sabbatini, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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