January 14, 2001
LEE PATTERSON: Rory, we appreciate you spending time with us. I know it was disappointing there at 18, but you had a wonderful week nonetheless. Just a couple thoughts about that. We'll open it up for questions.
RORY SABBATINI: Well, thanks. You know, it was a very good week. I had friends and family here. We had a good time there. I had a good time on the golf course, too. I played well; obviously, better than expected. Results be such, but, you know, I came away with it that I gave my best. You know, I'm not sorry about that in any way, so.
LEE PATTERSON: Any questions?
Q. Jim said on TV that was a tricky putt. The pin was on the side of a slope or something. Can you run us through it, please?
RORY SABBATINI: It was on a little bit of a left-to-right slope. The wind and the grain were going right to left. You know, I looked at it from both sides. It looked like a dead straight putt with the wind and the grain. You never know. On that green, the grain is a little stronger than some of the others. There's always that second thought going through your mind, you know, that it might turn more. Yet, you know, just the visual effect of it being on a left-to-right slope is such. I kind of picked to go right center. I didn't quite trust the line. I just pulled it back to center or even just left of center.
Q. Did you know you missed it as you hit it?
RORY SABBATINI: I kind of knew I missed it when I hit it. I felt myself pulled. Obviously, I was kind of hoping it would hold its line. With the greens as such, with the grain, if you do pull a putt, especially with left-to-right grain, it's going to take it even more.
Q. How long was your first putt?
RORY SABBATINI: Second putt was about three feet. I couldn't even guess how long the first putt was, you know. It was probably somewhere in the region of like 60, 65 feet.
Q. It's bit of a roller coaster, as soon as you made bogey on 13, then pulled yourself together nicely 14 and 15, then 16. Could you talk about what was going through your mind during that stretch?
RORY SABBATINI: You know, 13 I actually hit a really good tee shot, put myself in a good position. I hit a great second shot, but it got about halfway to the green. There was a huge gust of wind that came through and it was like it hit a wall. The ball just went straight left from that point on. I knew it was in trouble. There wasn't much I could do from the bunker because, you know, going up about ten feet in elevation, only had about maybe ten feet of green to work with. Then the next two holes, I played, you know, 14 really solidly, played 15 really solidly. 16, you know, I hit a great drive again, I hit a good second shot. Just, you know, came in there with a little too much spin, came back off the green. I had a difficult shot from there. You know, I hit what I thought was a great putt. Just never really slowed down. It was almost like there was no grain on the green. It just went straight through everything past the hole. If you get above that pin, you're just kind of fighting the odds all the time.
Q. Are you in sort of disbelief? We assumed watching on TV you would have made the putt. Were you stunned when the ball did not go in the hole?
RORY SABBATINI: No. You know, I wouldn't say "stunned." I was a little disappointed that I pulled it in that way. You know, not stunned, not truly disappointed. I was just -- I just kind of knew I pulled it. It was like, "Well, doesn't deserve to go in the way I hit it."
Q. Were those your parents there?
RORY SABBATINI: Yes, my mom and my dad are here, then my aunt and uncle, my sister, my best friend and his girlfriend.
Q. Do they live in South Africa?
RORY SABBATINI: Yeah, my parents still live in South Africa.
Q. In Durban?
RORY SABBATINI: Yes.
Q. Were they here -- are they here for the two weeks?
RORY SABBATINI: Actually, they've been here for almost a month already.
Q. How nervous on the birdie putt at 18 were you, or uneasy?
RORY SABBATINI: I wasn't uneasy. I wasn't nervous. I'd been putting well. You know, I kind of went up with the approach, "Yeah, I'm going to try to make it, give it my best." There's never anything in golf that is a true gimme in tournament golf. You know, under those circumstances, those three-footers obviously look a little longer. But, you know, I was very comfortable over it. I was very prepared for it.
Q. At 16, you lined up a fairly short par putt, seems like you got distracted and backed off.
RORY SABBATINI: When I was reading the putt, everything lying, that I was incorporating the wind into it. When I set up to hit the putt, you know, just about as I was ready to hit it, the wind kind of died. It kind of took the wind factor out of it. I had to kind of back off and wait for the wind to blow again to go with what my read was.
Q. Seemed like you were kind of smiling to yourself. Is it because of the timing of the wind?
RORY SABBATINI: No. I was kind of laughing, on the Back 9 the wind was really gusting. You know, it was just very unpredictable. You kind of expected it to be there. You stand up to do something, it stopped. It was like, "Whoa, where did it go?" We didn't have quite that consistent wind we had the past couple days.
Q. Obviously a bit disappointing now, but can you talk about your outlook for the year, to come in and have a strong tournament setting you up for the rest of the year?
RORY SABBATINI: It's always nice to get off to a good start early on in the year. It takes a lot of pressure off your game. You know, I'm kind of looking forward to the year and the progression that I'm going to make with Dean, my golf game as such, just continue to try and make improvements, get to a situation where I'm consistent with my game, just feel comfortable out there. You know, I definitely believe I'm hitting in that direction.
Q. Did you see Jim had made birdie from the fairway?
RORY SABBATINI: Yeah. I saw when we were walking down, he was short of the green, chipped or putted it up there, made it.
Q. Did you hear it?
RORY SABBATINI: Yeah. You have a pretty good view from up on the fairway.
Q. What was your club and distance on 18 coming in?
RORY SABBATINI: I think I had 253 to the hole. I hit a 6-iron.
Q. After being self-taught for so long, why did you start working with Dean, I guess, last year?
RORY SABBATINI: You know, obviously I'd come to a point where I felt I needed to start getting some more consistency in my game. You know, I needed to find someone who could kind of take me to that next level. Through speaking to some people, doing some research, just looking around seeing what the options were, I came to, you know, a decision that Dean would be a very good person to work with. I met with him. He came over to Tucson for a day. We kind of talked to kind of get a feel for his personality, everything like that. We hit it off straightaway. You know, he's someone that I don't feel is going to try and change too much in my swing at one time. He's going to take it very slowly. He's very good at communicating his ideas across.
Q. Were you aware of how close the day was coming down the backstretch? If you were, how did you think about it?
RORY SABBATINI: Yeah, you know, I looked over the score board every now and again. I knew what the situation was. You know, I just went with the belief that I can only do what I can do. It's going to play out as it will. No matter how much I try and push, it's not going to help me, so I've got to let things kind of take their course.
Q. If somebody had said before you left the mainland, "Would you take second place?," How long would it have taken you to say "Yes"?
RORY SABBATINI: I would have taken 33rd place. I would have made sure I signed the score card, didn't get disqualified for something. You know, I've got no complaints about the week. I've got no disappointments. I came here, gave it my best. Unfortunately, there's one thing that you can't do today is take away the way Jimmy played. Jimmy played an amazing round of golf. He got himself up there early an kept himself up there. More power to him for the way he played.
Q. Do you guys know each other through Arizona at all? Do you play in any kind of fund-raisers or anything?
RORY SABBATINI: Well, I met him when I was in college. I played a couple practice rounds when I first got out here on TOUR. He kind of showed me the ropes. I know his dad. I play in the fund-raiser. His dad participates in that. I see his dad quite often. They are just a great family, quality people. Quite honestly, you know, Jim is an absolute gentleman. If there's anybody that could win this tournament today, other than me, I'd hope it would be him because he really is a gentleman.
LEE PATTERSON: Do you need the birdies and bogeys? Why don't you do that quick for us.
RORY SABBATINI: 4, I hit the green in two, 3-putted. No. 5, I hit driver, 2-irons just left of the green, and 2-putted from off the left side of the green. No. 10, hit a driver, 9-iron to about 15 feet and made the putt. No. 13, I hit driver -- sorry, excuse me -- 3-wood, 7-iron, to the left green side bunker, chipped it to about probably 10, 12 feet, missed it. 14, I hit 2-iron, sand wedge, to about 12 feet below the hole, made it. 15, I hit driver, 3-wood probably about 35, 40 feet past the hole, 2-putted. 16, I hit driver, sand wedge, just short of the green, putted about eight feet by, missed it coming back. That's all she wrote.
LEE PATTERSON: Thank you, sir. We appreciate it.
RORY SABBATINI: Thank you.
LEE PATTERSON: Good job this week.
RORY SABBATINI: Thank you.
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