Rory Rory Rory

By Brian HewittMay 28, 2007, 4:00 pm
Rory Sabbatini is an annoyance.
Rory Sabbatini is a hero.
Rory Sabbatini is an idiot.
Rory Sabbatini is a force.
When it comes to opinions on Rory Sabbatini, it all depends upon whom you ask.
Rory Sabbatini, 31 and the same age as Tiger Woods, is more different things to more different people in golf than anybody else in the game today.
Rory Sabbatini is the newly-minted champion of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. Which means he now owns a plaid jacket thats almost as loud as he is.
Rory Sabbatini is a serious stick.
I told my wife by the end of the year Im going to be top 10 in the world rankings, he said after needing just one hole to defeat Jim Furyk and Bernhard Langer in a playoff. And Im not going to let anyone stop me.
He had already ascended to No. 14 before Colonial.
Rory Sabbatini is a pain in the neck; a player who is perceived as saying and doing what he wants when he wants without really caring for the feelings of his playing competitors or, for that matter, the rest of the players on the PGA TOUR.
Rory Sabbatini is a South African native who cares immensely about the American soldiers who know the price of freedom in the United States is eternal vigilance. He also knows better than most that American soldiers protect the freedoms of democracies all across the globe. And he looks for ways to pay homage to those soldiers.
Rory Sabbatini is fodder for Tiger Woods. Woods lives for guys like Sabbatini to come along and provide bulletin board material for him. Sabbatini said he wanted a piece of Tiger earlier this month at Wachovia. Woods drummed him while winning the golf tournament. Sabbatini came right back and said he wanted more of Tiger at THE PLAYERS. Tiger came from behind on Sunday to finish ahead of Sabbatini.
But Rory Mario Trevor Sabbatini keeps on coming. At Colonial Sabbatini drained a 13-foot birdie putt on the first hole of sudden death to win 1.08 million dollars.
The U.S. Open is three weeks away and Tiger, for what its worth, now has more bulletin board material.
Guys like Woods love to beat guys like Sabbatini whom they perceive to be cocky and without portfolio. Sabbatini has now won four times on the PGA TOUR. But he hasnt won a major yet.
Rory Sabbatini is the player you would most like to see matched against Woods in the Sunday singles of the Presidents Cup scheduled for Canada later this year.
It feels so good, Sabbatini said moments after eliminating Furyk, Langer and a lot of doubts about whether he could really put his money where his mouth was.
Sabbatinis the guy who stormed to the next tee and hit his drive a few years ago while playing with the Ben Crane who was, in Sabbatinis estimation, dawdling on the previous green and generally playing too slowly. A lot of players applauded Sabbatinis attempt to underscore how glacial Cranes normal pace of play was. Others thought Sabbatini was showing Crane up and out of line.
Rory Sabbatini is a lightning rod.
They say you either love him or hate him.
Actually, I love some of the things he does. And I cant stand some of the others. Hate? Thats a strong word when it comes to evaluating men who chase a small white ball for a living.
But I will say this: I would not have wanted to be Rory Sabbatinis second grade teacher. This is one 8-year-old who would have been impossible to convince that he needed to stand in line single file.
I will also say this: If I was in combat and engaging the enemy in live fire, I would want Rory Sabbatini in my foxhole.
Rory Sabbatini takes a great big swing at the golf ball just the way he lives his life in great big gulps. Sunday at Colonial, a golf course that demands precision, Sabbatini led the field in putting. His game has more than one dimension.
Putting will be paramount at Oakmont at the U.S. Open. Which is why you cant leave Sabbatini off the short list of candidates for our national championship. I never thought Id write those words.
But whether you like it or not, Rory Sabbatini just keeps coming. If you are in his way, he will knock you over if he can.
My goal next year is to probably get to No. 1, Sabbatini said Sunday.
One of the most entertaining things to watch for in golf in the next several months is whether he will be able to knock Tiger Woods over.
Yes, the Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson rivalry was renewed when Mickelson won THE PLAYERS earlier this month. But right now the final Sunday pairing Id like to see most at Oakmont, if you gave me the opportunity to pick and choose, would be Rory Sabbatini vs. Tiger Woods.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial
  • Getty Images

    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.

    Getty Images

    Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

    “Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    “We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

    In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010. 

    Getty Images

    Woods impresses DeChambeau, Day on Tuesday

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 11:27 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Bryson DeChambeau played with Tiger Woods for the first time Tuesday morning, and the biggest surprise was that he wasn’t overcome by nerves.

    “That’s what I was concerned about,” DeChambeau said. “Am I just gonna be slapping it around off the tee? But I was able to play pretty well.”

    So was Woods.

    DeChambeau said that Woods looked “fantastic” as he prepares to make his first PGA Tour start in a year.

    “His game looks solid. His body doesn’t hurt. He’s just like, yeah, I’m playing golf again,” DeChambeau said. “And he’s having fun, too, which is a good thing.”

    Woods arrived at Torrey Pines before 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, when the temperature hadn’t yet crept above 50 degrees. He warmed up and played the back nine of Torrey Pines’ South Course with DeChambeau and Jason Day.

    “He looks impressive; it was good to see,” Day told afterward. “You take (Farmers) last year and the Dubai tournament out, and he hasn’t really played in two years. I think the biggest thing is to not get too far ahead, or think he’s going to come back and win straight away.

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    “The other time he came back, I don’t think he was ready and he probably came back too soon. This time he definitely looks ready. I think his swing is really nice, he’s hitting the driver a long way and he looks like he’s got some speed, which is great.”

    Woods said that his caddie, Joe LaCava, spent four days with him in South Florida last week and that he’s ready to go.

    “Before the Hero I was basically given the OK probably about three or four weeks prior to the tournament, and I thought I did pretty good in that prep time,” Woods told, referring to his tie for ninth in the 18-man event.

    “Now I’ve had a little more time to get ready for this event. I’ve played a lot more golf, and overall I feel like I’ve made some nice changes. I feel good.”

    Woods is first off Torrey Pines’ North Course in Wednesday’s pro-am, scheduled for 6:40 a.m. local time. 

    Getty Images

    With blinders on, Rahm within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

    SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

    The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

    Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

    It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

    “It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

    Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

    According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

    “I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

    And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

    As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

    He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

    “I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

    If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

    Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

    “I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

    Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

    Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

    “If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

    Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.