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January 13, 2001

Rory Sabbatini


LEE PATTERSON: Rory, wonderful 65 today.


LEE PATTERSON: Got yourself in a good position as we head into tomorrow. Just a couple thoughts about that.

RORY SABBATINI: Well, you know, obviously, yeah, I'm in a great position going into tomorrow. You know, everyone knows it's a pretty strong field here. I'm not taking anything for granted. I'm just going to go out, have some fun, continue what I was doing today, the last two days, tomorrow. Just kind of hope that things will progress in a way that leads to a good result.

Q. Are you aware of it when the momentum starts to shift, you go up, other guys go down? Do you not pay any attention to that?

RORY SABBATINI: You know, honestly I didn't even know what the situation was going on. For some reason, early on I kind of got caught up in seeing what was going on with the score board. Yeah, obviously I was playing well, playing consistently. I was very focused on that. About on 6 or 7, I had to switch my attention. I realized, "I've got to pull it back to what I'm doing here." First time I really realized what was going on again was when I was talking on 17, we had a bit of a wait for the green. I just looked over, glanced over, saw the leaderboard. I saw the situation. I was a little surprised because I had no idea of what was going on behind or anything like that.

Q. What do you mean by that, you got caught up in the score boards early on?

RORY SABBATINI: I was looking at them. You kind of go through your game plan, "If I do this, if I do this." Just really concentrating on what I was doing.

Q. Are you at all surprised to be eight shots ahead of Tiger Woods?

RORY SABBATINI: Yeah. But, you know, everyone has a bad day or bad week. Granted, you know, he's still not out of it.

Q. Really?

RORY SABBATINI: But, you know, it's just my week in a sense. Obviously there's still one more day to go. We'll have to see what the results are. But, you know, it's pretty amazing that I'm ahead of half the people I am. If you look at my world ranking, you look at theirs, there's a little confusion there.

Q. Were you more surprised when you finally did look at the board and saw where you stood that you were leading by two at the time or that Ernie had dropped so many shots back?

RORY SABBATINI: When I looked up, I was leading by two. I was very surprised.

Q. By the fact that you were ahead or Ernie had dropped some shots?

RORY SABBATINI: Well, both, you know. I obviously didn't realize what was going on with Ernie behind. The last time I looked was probably on like the 2nd or 3rd hole that I really focused on what the scores were, looking at the whole leaderboard. At that stage, I think -- the last time I saw, he was like 15 or something. Then, you know, I didn't pay much attention for about ten holes. I was surprised to kind of see him at 14.

Q. What was the yards on the club on 16? Sand wedge?

RORY SABBATINI: 96 yards to the hole. It was a sand wedge.

Q. You probably have spoken of this, but do you have any relationship at all with Ernie, being that you're both from the same nation? Did you ever play with him when he was younger and you were younger?

RORY SABBATINI: Actually, no, I didn't get to play with him when I was younger. My older brother is six and a half years older than me. He was in the same kind of area as Ernie with regards to age group, you know, competed against him in junior golf, competed with him when they played on the South African junior team together. My brother had more of the competitive side with him. I was a couple years behind.

Q. As a younger guy, did you look up to him at all?

RORY SABBATINI: I don't think it would be looked up to him. I think I respected him. I think the age difference was too close that it wasn't really a situation where he's someone you could look up to.

Q. What kind of impact did that have on golf in your country? I imagine you were 17 when he won his first Open.

RORY SABBATINI: Obviously, the impact has been pretty big. You can't really say it's because of Ernie. It's more a situation that, you know, you had Bobby Locke, Gary Player, that have come through, put a little bit of a spotlight, in a sense, on South Africa in a small way. Ernie and a couple others, like Fulton Allem, David Frost, have broadened the horizon for the South African players to come through.

Q. Down the last few holes, how were you feeling? Birdies and eagles. Are you looking for more? How are you approaching it?

RORY SABBATINI: I don't think there was any point in the round today when I had a putt or something like that, even after I missed a putt or something, "I really should have made a birdie," anything like that. I think my focus this week is the sense of letting things flow. If I don't make a putt, don't make a birdie, whatever, it's not the end of the world. There's another 400 million people in the world that couldn't care. It's just a sense of why get caught up in something so small as that when you still have the rest of the round to play?

Q. There was a TV interview during the round that you had done either before the round or yesterday. You mentioned something in that same vein, that you weren't going to get upset over little things. Has that been your reputation? Were you a guy who got upset at yourself easily?

RORY SABBATINI: You know, yeah, I did. I had a tendency to get upset with myself for making errors and mistakes. It was kind of the sense that I expected a lot more of myself than I was putting into my game. In a sense, it was false expectations. Just through some realization the past couple weeks, some changes that I've decided to make in my life, more the sense of realizing when I came in here this week, I'd only played four complete rounds of golf in the last month and a half, hit golf balls for a half hour. I knew I came in here totally unprepared, physically, mentally, just in general with my golf game. I wasn't coming here with high expectations. High hopes, but low expectations.

Q. What are the changes you've made in your life?

RORY SABBATINI: Oh, there's just been a few personal changes that I won't quite go into. You know, just more in the sense of realizing, you know, I'm here, I'm an independent person, I'm responsible for my actions, everything like that. More the approach I've realized in the past -- you know, even in the last two years. Yeah, I've grown up a lot, but still I'm 24. I've still got a lot of immaturity about me. In a sense it's like, you know, just an approach I've taken to kind of realize, you know, it's time for me to grow up and be a bastion for The TOUR. We have this great privilege of being out here, have this opportunity to do things for less fortunate people. Kind of taking on that responsibility, you know, accepting it, realizing it, really trying to do the best I can with it.

Q. When you were in contention in Atlanta two years ago, you had us all in stitches in the press conference. Today you're not. Is that what you're talking about?

RORY SABBATINI: I haven't lost my sense of humor. I think when you're younger, you have a tendency to laugh at things a lot more easily, more serious things than you even realize. You know, I've realized through some bad habits that I haven't been very respectful of other people's feelings and concerns. I haven't really given them the justice, the consideration that they deserve. I have a lot of regrets about that. You know, I'm fortunate in the situation to have realized this now, being in a (speculative?) position, I've tried to make things right.

Q. Is there a specific incidence that drove that point home?

RORY SABBATINI: There's been a few incidences in my life recently that have led to these changes, but I'm not going to elaborate. Unfortunately, one thing I've realized is I've been a little too open with my personal life with people, situations. I'm not willing to compromise that anymore.

Q. What is your brother's name? Did he ever become a pro?

RORY SABBATINI: My brother's name is Gary. Actually, no, he never went pro. He's actually still a very good amateur golfer. Gives me a lot of good competition when I go home. But actually own as plumbing company down in South Africa now.

Q. A lot has been made about the need for local knowledge here, yet you're doing so well.

RORY SABBATINI: You know, I can definitely see how local knowledge could have an effect here. I'm lucky in a sense that I grew up playing at the coast, grew up playing in winds like this every day of my life. In a sense, it's kind of brought me back to my roots. It's got a lot of very familiar feelings to it in the sense of the golf course, the conditions. Yet, you know, so much has changed in my golf game, it's interesting for myself to notice the adaptation in my game from where I started when I came out of college to where I am now.

Q. You said that you came in unprepared mentally and physically. How do you explain where you are now? What happened between now and then?

RORY SABBATINI: God. He's taken care of my this me this week. I don't know if there is really a reason. Maybe there's a reason that I'll realize down the road, why this is happening. Maybe there's something to come out of it; maybe there isn't. Only time will tell.

Q. Did you and Dean work on anything, any major changes this week?

RORY SABBATINI: We actually, during the off-season, I hit golf balls for about a half hour with Dean. He flew into Tucson to work with me. Unfortunately, mentally I wasn't in a situation where I could do any changes. The changes he was trying to do, I wasn't in a situation mentally where I could be patient enough to make the changes. You know, I guess since then, in a sense, mentally I've been thinking about what he's been saying, but haven't really been doing too much in-depth, you know, thinking about it or trying to work on it in a way.

Q. How come you weren't mentally ready to work on the changes?

RORY SABBATINI: Unfortunately, there's been a lot of other things going on in my life that have taken my mental approach away from the game of golf. You know, it's kind of drained me physically and mentally in a sense. In a way, it's led to a very good thing. It's been a very humbling experience.

Q. At what point this week did you start really preparing to play golf?

RORY SABBATINI: I started preparing -- I arrived here Monday night, started preparing Tuesday morning when I woke up. I've always been lucky in a sense to be able to separate personal life from business life. You know, it's always a hard thing to do. You know, when I got out here, one thing I'm very lucky and I'm able to kind of switch focus and really just snap in to gear. You know, I was talking to Jim today on the golf course. I said, "I can't explain why I'm here. I can't explain the situation I'm in right now." If somebody would see me play golf the last week, I played nine holes, man, I would have had a good ten handicap. I was hitting it heavy, hitting it left, right. I didn't know where the next one was going. There's no explanation. You know, I'm here. It's like things have just come together.

Q. The six weeks that you haven't played golf, is that the longest break of your professional career?

RORY SABBATINI: No. Of my professional career, yes. I was going to say in college, I used to take the whole summer off. I'd be in summer school. It would be too hot to go out and play golf in Tucson. You know, it's definitely the longest break I've had since being a professional.

Q. The four rounds that you played, was that at Sun City?

RORY SABBATINI: No. Actually, that was in Tucson, mostly with my family and friends.

Q. So no competitive golf?

RORY SABBATINI: No. The last time I played competitive golf is when I went for an outing down in Guadalajara, Mexico, which I think was the second week in November. It was pretty pitiful there, my golf, too.

Q. You were on the negative side of momentum at the Hope last year. Here you pick up several shots in the last round. What's it like in your head when it's going bad and what's it like when it's going good?

RORY SABBATINI: That's a hard one to answer because, you know, when I played the Hope last year, you know, I can definitely right now from where I was last year, mentally there's been such a vast change that there really isn't a comparison. In a sense last year when I was in the Hope, the momentum changed, it was frustrating. It's kind of melancholy in a way. You kind of come off of it with a bitter taste in your mouth. You know, if I go tomorrow and, you know, shoot a hundred, I'm going to come out with the same approach, you know, I had three great days. I had a lot of fun. I got to meet a lot of people this week. I had fun interacting with the crowd, you know, getting to know a few people that a year ago I wouldn't have cared to know about.

Q. Now when it's going good, does it feel as good, does it feel as bad, or you're not aware it's good?

RORY SABBATINI: I think it's more the situation, whether it be good or bad, I'm just going to enjoy life. It's kind of like every day is getting better and better for me, and I'm enjoying life more and more. In the past, I've been so focused on myself, what's been going on with me. In a sense, I've decided that that wasn't the most efficient for me, that wasn't bringing me that much enjoyment. It's like, you know, I'm having actually more fun just interacting with people out here, even if it's a five-word conversation with people to find out how they're doing, let them know that, hey, they're important enough for somebody in my position to know them. I'm actually getting a lot more out of life just from that than anything else really.

Q. You had some struggles on Sundays last year. Did you learn anything you can take with you tomorrow for that?

RORY SABBATINI: I'm just going to -- you know, I'm going to go out, have some fun, hope God's with me and blesses me. You know, I'm just going to go out and do the best I can do. Regardless of what I shoot, I'm going to come off the round knowing I've done the best I can do.

Q. What do you think it will take tomorrow?

RORY SABBATINI: Tomorrow will tell. We'll have to wait and see.

Q. You've become a lot more spiritual in the last year, is that what I'm getting?

RORY SABBATINI: I've had a definite bringing back to the church in the last couple weeks. It's something I'm sad about, that it took something that happened in the last couple weeks to bring me back to (tearing up). Everything happens for a reason.

LEE PATTERSON: Can run down the birdies. Birdied 4.

RORY SABBATINI: Yes. No. 4 I hit a driver, I believe it was a 7-iron up there about 30 feet right of the hole, made a great putt. No. 6, I drove it down just in front of the green, chipped up about three feet short of the hole, made the putt. No. 7 I hit a 3-wood off the tee, right side of the fairway, hit an 8-iron to about 12 feet, made it. No. 9, I hit 3-wood off the tee, then hit a 5-iron into the front bunker, got up-and-down from the bunker. No. 11, I hit a 9-iron to probably about 12 feet again, made a good putt. 15, the par 5, I hit driver off the tee, hit a 3-wood to about probably 40, 45 feet short of the hole, 2-putted.

LEE PATTERSON: Eagle was the sand wedge from 96.


LEE PATTERSON: Thank you. We appreciate it.


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