CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Whether Rory Sabbatini is ever suspend for a confrontation he had with Sean O’Hair last week in New Orleans will likely never truly be known, lost in the PGA Tour’s veil of secrecy and an exhaustive disciplinary process.
What is known, however, is the detailed process by which a player is notified of violating the circuit’s disciplinary guidelines. According to the Tour’s regulations, a player must first be notified of the “proposed action” in writing if the violation is an “intermediate” or “major” penalty.
From that date the player has 14 days to submit any facts or mitigating circumstances in his defense. Two weeks after that the commissioner “shall notify the member . . . of the imposition of the proposed disciplinary action or penalty.”
From there a player has 14 days to appeal any penalties and the commissioner has an additional two weeks to make a final ruling.
If Sabbatini was notified on Tuesday of any proposed penalties, as many at Quail Hollow have speculated, the entire process could drag on through the Travelers Championship the third week of June. It’s a schedule that would make him eligible for next week’s Players Championship as well as the Byron Nelson Championship and Colonial, local events for the Dallas-area resident and tournaments he has won.
It would also explain Sabbatini’s response on Wednesday to reports that he had been suspended.
“Respond to what? The crazy rumors. I’m playing this week, so that’s all you need to know. That is just a rumor,” he said following his pro-am.
There is a stipulation in the Tour’s regulations that addresses infractions that occurred during a probation period. The Associated Press reported that the New Orleans incident was the second time this year Sabbatini has run afoul of the Tour’s “conduct unbecoming a professional” rules.
According to the AP report, he was involved in an incident during this year’s Northern Trust Open with a volunteer “but Sabbatini escaped punishment by offering to apologize to anyone he offended.”
The Tour’s regulations stipulate that the commissioner may “immediately suspend the member’s playing privileges” if an infraction occurs during a probation period. Whether Sabbatini is currently on probation is not known and the Tour does not discuss disciplinary matters.