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February 27, 2014

Rory Sabbatini


DOUG MILNE:  5‑under and a 65 today in round one, 2011 Champion.  How much different was the course that you played today as opposed to the one you won on here in 2011?
RORY SABBATINI:  You know, the course had some minor changes this year.  Obviously they have just changed, some minor changes.  Added a new tee on 4, took away the back green‑side bunker.
Same thing on 11, they took away the back left green‑side bunker, so they have changed the way the course looks a little bit.  I think they have made that a little more interesting, and you'll see a lot more shot selections around the greens on those holes.
4 is playing a little more difficult than it used to now whereas before, you're trying to bomb it up right on the front edge of the green and you can't do that anymore, unless of course you're Bubba or one of those guys that can hit it 400 yard.
The course is great.  It's in great condition.   It's playing fair, receptive right now, especially on the greens but you've still got to put the ball in the right spots out there. 

Q.  Is that what you did, put it in the right spots today?
RORY SABBATINI:  You know, for the most part today, I drove the ball particularly well.  I hit a lot of good quality iron shots, but I'd say the part that's key on this golf course is when you do get an opportunity on the greens, you've got to be able to convert that and take advantage of that and I was able to do that quite successfully today.
I had a couple of moments where I had to square myself around and get myself out of trouble, but this golf course is going to do that to you.  It's going to give you some difficulty and moments out there scratching your head wondering how you got there again.  You've got to be patient out there and you've got to be able to make putts.

Q.  You had a T‑3 at Mayakoba.  Have you discovered something here in the last little while?
RORY SABBATINI:  We've been continuing to do some work on the swing, trying to just tighten things up.  For a little bit, I got a little bit lost in it so now it's starting to all kind of sink back in together.
I like it in Florida here, playing in the wind.  I grew up in it, so used to it and quite comfortable.  Just glad to be back out here in the warmer weather and just being able to play some great quality golf courses like PGA National here.

Q.  You've played this course quite a few years; how has the Bear Trap treated you over the years?
RORY SABBATINI:  For the most part, it's actually treated me fairly well.  I think I only had really one bad go around there, but other than that, I've had a lot of success, and you know, one of‑‑ I would say my strong suits in my golf game is on par 3s, being able to flight the ball and control the trajectory.  So on those holes, that's obviously key, and for some reason, I'm actually pretty comfortable on them.

Q.  How are the conditions, it looks like very little wind, was that a good thing, I would think?
RORY SABBATINI:  The wind is‑‑ it's had its moments out there, but it's been definitely kind of easing up as the day has gone on here.
As I said, the course is playing very fair right now.  There's definitely an opportunity to go out there and score and today if you get that opportunity, you need to go out there and do it, so I don't think this course is going to play any easier as the week goes on.

Q.  I know earlier in the week, guys were saying they had some mud balls.  Was that an issue today at all?
RORY SABBATINI:  If you drive it in the fairway, you got list, clean and cheat today.  That's not an issue.  If you hit it in the fairway today and you had a mud ball, you need to fire your caddie.

Q.  What's the difference between you in 2011 and now, both personally and on the course?
RORY SABBATINI:  I'm getting myself into a healthier situation with my personal life, and I'm actually getting back to enjoying golf.  I think that's the two biggest keys is eliminating stress and being able to focus on what I enjoy doing out here, and getting myself to enjoy it.  That's been a big part there.

Q.  For some reason today, for other guys,  No. 11 was a really tough hole.  Is there anything that you can tell us about that hole?
RORY SABBATINI:  Yeah, Woody Austin got a chance of winning a skin there today; he made birdie.
11 is playing tough.  The wind direction, it's playing in off the right, and it's a back right pin.  That's always a tough one, because, you know, if you bail out left, the green gets shorter on you and you end up down in the low area that they have created down there; instead of catching the bunker and the ball maybe stopping quickly, it's going to roll down away from the green a little bit and you're going to be left with an awkward pitch up the hill.
You have to hit a really good tee shot and you have to be really precise with your yardage and accuracy on the second shot.  It's definitely going to be interesting out there today.  There's going to be some guys that are going to really love that hole and there's going to be some guys that are going to come away muttering a few ugly things.
I'm sure Zach Johnson probably felt that way today, but talk about a great comeback, seven birdies, he's going to be leading two categories, birdies and others.
DOUG MILNE:  You mentioned the getting healthier part, I know in Palm Springs you chuckled that you had put on ten pounds over the holidays, but obviously you have done a lot physically.  How does that work for your mind‑set, as well as your physical body?
RORY SABBATINI:  I've been spending a lot more time in the gym and that's definitely been benefitting me in the if a figure factor.  I have more energy and I'm able to maintain my focus better and feel less drained at the end of each day and that's obviously a key point out here is being able to maintain that that energy and that focus level out there because it can be grueling out there, especially on a course like this one.
DOUG MILNE:  Thank you.

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