Rory Sabbatini Press Conference Transcript

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2003, 4:00 pm
Sabbatini, RoryBank of America Colonial
Colonial Country Club
Fort Worth, Texas
May 22, 2003
First Round
An Interview With:

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Like to thank Rory Sabbatini for joining us in the interview room. First round leader here today. Great round today. Get some opening comments from you about your 6-under 64.
RORY SABBATINI: It was a good day out there. I made a lot of putts. Kind of scrambled around the golf course. Didn't hit many fairways or many greens, but as I said, made putts and every time I kind of had a chance to make a birdie I made it. So definitely made the most of it.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Being one of the longer hitters on the TOUR, this course may or may not be tailor made for you, but you played well today. Is it a golf course that you like?
RORY SABBATINI: I like the golf course. Traditionally it always plays very fast, very firm. I think that the conditions from the rain it's actually kind of made a little easier for me in some respects because obviously you can be more aggressive to flags and you can hit drivers and a lot of longer clubs on holes that normally you couldn't because it would run through the fairway. So it gives you an opportunity of being able to get down further and still be able to kind of control where you end up.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Okay. Take some questions now.
Q. Obviously you got the first round lead. How many people do you think will notice because of what's going on with Annika and all that? How does it feel to have a first round lead like that?
RORY SABBATINI: It's always nice to have the lead. I don't mind if they don't notice. I just hope they don't notice until Monday. That would be even better.
Q. The University of Arizona connection, have you followed her at all since you both attended the same school and that?
RORY SABBATINI: No, I probably met Annika about six years ago. Six or seven years ago. And she's always been very kind, very outgoing. She's just a really nice, very considerate and genuine person. And quite obviously she's dominated the world of women's golf and I have nothing but support for her, because she's a Wildcat and I think she's a good golfer. And I think that in regards to her abilities as golfer, she's more than capable of competing with anybody. And this is her chance to test that.
Q. Did you watch any of Annika before you came out?
RORY SABBATINI: Briefly caught a glimpse this morning on TV before we headed out here. And the last thing I saw she was 1-under and I found out when I got done that she actually ended up 1-over, but I think that speaks volumes for her right there. She played really well. Obviously she just struggled coming down at the end there. But I tell you what, 1 over on this golf course regardless of the conditions is a great score. If I would have shot 1 over playing the way I was I probably would have been happy with it. So who knows.
Q. Given the fact that Annika is here, some people might consider it a footnote that you're the leader but the fact is that footnote's going to go down in history, how do you feel about that?
RORY SABBATINI: I don't have a problem with it. I played today, I did the best I could today and personally what I feel about my game is what counts and I'm very happy with the way I played today. It's been a long time coming for me to actually go out there and post a score. And it's nice to finally have kind of broken the cycle in my feeling of what's been going on with my game. So what people may think or what people may say is their personal opinion and I've always basically measured my game to what I feel. And that's what counts.
Q. What has been going on with your game and what is the struggle like been to reestablish it?
RORY SABBATINI: It's just, to be honest, I kind of felt like I was a hamster in a wheel. I was running real fast but not going anywhere. I've been hitting my ball well, playing solid, trying to play smart out there. And it just kind of feels like I've been right on that edge the whole time. It's close but not quite. And the difference today was I actually made some putts and I was, I've been happy with the way I putted last week and this week. Today was basically a progression that have feeling. Actually gaining more confidence in my putter and I kind of lost that and I'm gaining that back again. It's an important club in your bag. So that was the huge difference there. And I feel like I've maybe kind of started to get out of the cycle of being stuck.
Q. Going late/early tomorrow it's supposed to be a little warmer, greens are going to dry out a little bit. Wind might kick up. Feel you have an advantage going off early tomorrow. You still might get a little dampness and can throw it at the pin?
RORY SABBATINI: There may be an advantage with that. There's always definitely an advantage in the situation that we have in the course being as it is right now. You can never really control what Mother Nature is going to do. It does what it wants. Very simply, the fact is I got to go out there and take care of business tomorrow. Go out and try and hit the ball a little better today. Hit some more fairways, more greens. And alleviate some of the stress that I put on my game there today. Hopefully the putter will continue to feel good in the hands and I'll make some putts and I'll post another good score.
Q. Holding the first round lead, holding the lead for four rounds is always tough, is there anything about this course that might bring guys more into play or makes it any more difficult to hold the lead in your mind?
RORY SABBATINI: Well this course always does that typically on the weekends the greens are firmer, they're faster, and typically also the later you tee off on the weekends the worse the greens are. Because you've had the whole field go through before you. Sometimes guys have a little bit of trouble picking their feet up around the greens. It makes it a little harder to make putts. So there's always a trend there that on the weekend here the field closes. But I'm fairly confident in my game and know that I'm quite capable of going out there and taking the lead from here until Monday morning. And it's been done. Tiger does it all the time, so I can do it.
Q. Did you make an adjustment to your putting stroke or what brought it around?
RORY SABBATINI: Actually I changed putters. I switched to a belly putter. And I've messed around with it once before and it didn't, it wasn't actually very successful. I found a putter that feels good in the hands and I'm confident with. And it's kind of like each day I'm out there with it I get more and more confidence. I got a feeling that this one is going to be in the bag for a long time and hopefully bring some victories.
Q. When did you make the switch?
RORY SABBATINI: Last week. Actually about four o'clock on Wednesday afternoon last week.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Go over your scorecard. Started out with birdies on 10, 11 and 12. First the par-4 10th hole.
RORY SABBATINI: Hit 3-iron off the tee. Hit an 8-iron to about probably about 18 feet. Made that.
11, hit driver in the left hand rough, laid up with a 3-iron. Hit a wedge to about 12 feet and made that.
Next hole, drove it in the right fairway bunker, hit a wedge to about 20 feet and made that.
Birdie on 16, hit 7-iron on the par-3 to about two and a half feet.
I hit driver on number 1, left side of the fairway. Hit 3-iron to about 20, 25 feet. Two putted.
No. 2 hit driver off the tee, hit a sand wedge from fairway to about four feet. Made that.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Only bogey of the day on number 5.
RORY SABBATINI: Laid up off the tee short of the fairway with a 3-iron. No. I hit a 3-iron in the right rough between the fairway and the hazard on the right and then punched out but down the fairway there. Then hit a 7-iron to about 25 feet and left it short.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Then final birdie of the day on number 7.
RORY SABBATINI: Hit driver into first cut left rough, and hit a wedge to about 18 feet, made it.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: All right. Alex?
Q. The golf channel just reported that Tom Pernice who is on the policy board has indicated that this is a major issue now that women are playing on this TOUR and it's something that has to be discussed and dealt with. You're a player on this TOUR, what's your thoughts on that?
RORY SABBATINI: My thoughts on that is personally I don't make policy. I find it distressing when politics and sports coincide. I think that's a bad mix there. And my personal opinion is that I stay out of it. I focus on what I'm doing. And that may be selfish in regards to the gender issue and regards to women playing here and men playing on the LPGA TOUR, whatever. But as I said, I don't make policy. He's an elected official for the players in regards to making policy. And this is something that I'm sure they will look at and handle in what they feel is the right manner.
Q. Can I follow-up? I understand you don't make policy, but would you support a move in that direction?
RORY SABBATINI: I don't know what direction they're taking. I don't know what they have decided or what is what has been stated there in regards to it. So I can't make an educated decision on it.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Anything else? Last one.
Q. Honestly, is this a distraction to the men's TOUR one way or the other? Honestly.
RORY SABBATINI: I don't know if I would say it's a distraction for the TOUR. The only distraction I had out there was the fact that in regards to the crowd control they have made, tried to make as many preparations as they could. They knew there was going to be a lot of interest in this tournament. They knew that three months ago when the tickets were sold out. That's basically the only problem that I found out there is unfortunately there's certain particular areas on this golf course where if you happen to be at the wrong time, it's congested, it's difficult. And you can't really maneuver around in a fashion that you you're used to. You know, you get over to the range, you get back to the club house, you go to the putting green, you get ready to go play. It makes it tough to actually get prepared to go play. And that was the only thing that happened to me today is unfortunately I was in a situation where I had to deal with all the crowd and that was the toughest part for me. But overall, as a distraction, for the TOUR, I don't know. I don't foresee it being a distraction.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Rory, thank you, good luck the rest of the week.
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    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

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