Sabbatini Suddenly Goes Quiet

By Associated PressJanuary 6, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007 Mercedes Benz ChampionshipKAPALUA, Hawaii -- A new year on the PGA TOUR always brings about some degree of change. Some players have new equipment deals. Others have pledged to get into better shape.
Perhaps the biggest change at Kapalua is Rory Sabbatini.
He's gone silent.
Sabbatini is a spunky South African with tons of firepower in his game who is coming off his best season on the PGA TOUR. He won at Colonial, played in the final group in two other events, was the only player to finish in the top 10 at all four playoff events, wound up fourth in the FedExCup and played on his first Presidents Cup team.
That's not what made his year so memorable to the public, however, and it ended on a sour note.
Sabbatini is never bashful about saying whatever is on his mind, which is why he didn't blush when stating that Woods looked 'beatable as ever' after losing a final-round lead to him at the Wachovia Championship.
Actions proved far more powerful than words, however. His peers roundly criticized him -- some publicly, most privately -- when he withdrew last month from the final round of the Target World Challenge, pocketing last-place money of $170,000.
This wasn't directed at Woods, the tournament host who arranged for sponsorship of a $5.5 million purse at a tournament that raises money to educate children. But it was different from a WD at a regular PGA TOUR event because a.) the size of the last-place check, b.) it was guaranteed money in the silly season and c.) his bold challenge to Woods.
More than anything, in the words of Mark Calcavecchia, it was 'Rory being Rory.'
Sabbatini's agent later said he withdrew because of shin splints, that he went home Saturday night to get them worked on, but there was no improvement and Sabbatini didn't want to risk it. This rang hollow, however, because locker room attendants said he packed up Saturday afternoon and gave away all his gear -- sweaters, shoes, balls.
Tournament officials had no idea what happened to his courtesy car until late Sunday night or early Monday morning. Turns out his caddie had it, presumably giving the boss a ride to the airport.
So what really happened?
Asked on Tuesday if he had a few minutes, Sabbatini politely said he was in a rush to leave, and when asked if the next day would be better, he kept walking. After his pro-am Wednesday, he again said he didn't have time.
'I'm done talking to you guys,' he said.
Approached a few minutes later at his locker, Sabbatini said, 'I have nothing to say.'
Not even about his change in golf equipment?
'I'll let my clubs do the talking,' he said.
There is word of a personal tragedy Sabbatini was going through, although that can't be confirmed because he won't talk.
Sabbatini wasn't the least bit rude in declining to speak. He appears to be in good spirits, and he has spent a half-hour or so after his rounds to sign autographs, exchanging pleasantries with the gallery.
How long Sabbatini will be on mute remains to be seen, and it probably won't matter unless he plays well. Considering how his last year went, not speaking might not be the worst idea.
Sabbatini feels as though he was taken out of context, and there's some truth to that.
His basic message is that he wants to go head-to-head with Woods at every turn, which usually means he would be in contention. Woods is the best, and that's where Sabbatini wants to be. Every player should have such aspirations.
What caused pens to run out of ink were his comments after losing to Woods at Wachovia.
'No, the funny thing is after watching him play on Sunday, I think he's more beatable than ever,' Sabbatini said. 'I think there was a few fortuitous occasions out there that really changed the round for him. And realizing that gives me even more confidence to go in and play with him on Sunday again.'
Woods was the first to concede he wasn't always hitting it where he was aiming at Quail Hollow. What made him respond was when Sabbatini said Woods was 'scary' in full control of his game, and he liked the 'new Tiger' better. Woods is sensitive toward criticism of his new swing, especially after it had brought him four of the last nine majors at that point.
Sabbatini never backed down because that's not his nature.
He signed up for the first tee time Wednesday at Oakmont before the U.S. Open, with Woods' name already on the list. Sabbatini played alone that day, and when someone jokingly asked Sabbatini if Woods was ducking him, he chirped, 'I don't know. I'll go find out.'
He walked across the putting green and began chatting to Woods, who rarely looked up, but smiled when he finally did. Sabbatini laughed, came back to a group of reporters and shared his information.
'He said he stopped playing on Wednesday at the majors a couple of years ago, and it's worked out OK for him,' Sabbatini said.
Over the next few months, Sabbatini said he wanted to play Woods in the Presidents Cup because he would either win and give his team a lift or lose and be a sacrificial lamb. They were in the final group at Firestone, and Woods beat him by nine and the field by eight.
By then, they were linked as adversaries, and pulling out of the Target made the headlines even larger.
'Obviously, Rory is full of confidence,' Woods said at Firestone. 'He believes in what he can do, and there's a lot to be said for that.'
But right now, you won't hear it from Sabbatini.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Mercedes-Benz Championship
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
    Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2018, 9:14 pm

    After nearly 30 years in the broadcast booth, Johnny Miller is ready to hang up his microphone.

    Following a Hall of Fame playing career that included a pair of major titles, Miller has become one of the most outspoken voices in the game as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports. But at age 71 he has decided to retire from broadcasting following the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

    “The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling,” Miller told “The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything.”

    Miller was named lead analyst for NBC in 1990, making his broadcast debut at what was then known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic. He still remained competitive, notably winning the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at age 46, but made an indelible mark on the next generation of Tour pros with his frank and candid assessment of the action from some of golf’s biggest events.

    Miller’s broadcasting career has included 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. While he has teamed in the booth with Dan Hicks for the past 20 years, Miller’s previous on-air partners included Bryant Gumbel, Charlie Jones, Jim Lampley and Dick Enberg.

    His farewell event will be in Phoenix Jan. 31-Feb. 3, at a tournament he won in back-to-back years in 1974-75.

    “When it comes to serving golf fans with sharp insight on what is happening inside the ropes, Johnny Miller is the gold standard,” said NBC lead golf producer Tommy Roy. “It has been an honor working with him, and while it might not be Johnny’s personal style, it will be fun to send him off at one of the PGA Tour’s best parties at TPC Scottsdale.”

    Miller was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 after a playing career that included wins at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont and The Open in 1976 at Royal Birkdale. Before turning pro, he won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur and was low amateur at the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic, where he tied for eighth at age 19.

    Born and raised in San Francisco, Miller now lives in Utah with his wife, Linda, and annually serves as tournament host of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff

    By Randall MellOctober 15, 2018, 7:45 pm

    Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off.

    The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.

    Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue.

    Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.

    He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag.

    There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.

    In Mickelson’s eagerness to create some excitement, he hinted back during The Players in May about the possibility of a big-money, head-to-head match with Woods. A couple months later, he leaked more details, before it was ready to be fully announced.

    So while there was an initial buzz over news of the Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the original pitch set up a real buzzkill when it was later announced that you were only going to get to see it live on pay-per-view.

    The news landed with a thud but no price tag. We’re still waiting to see what it’s going to cost when these two meet at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but anything that feels even slightly inflated now is going to further dampen the original enthusiasm Mickelson created.

    Without Woods or Mickelson putting up their own money, this $9 million winner-take-all event was always going to feel more like a money grab than real competition.

    When we were expecting to see it on network or cable TV, we didn’t care so much. Tiger's and Phil’s hands would have felt as if they were reaching into corporate America’s pockets. Now, it feels as if they’re digging into ours.

    Last week, there was more disappointing news, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that tickets won’t be sold to the public, that the match at Shadow Creek will only be open to select sponsors and VIPs.

    Now there’s a larger insult to the common fan, who can’t help but feel he isn’t worthy or important enough to gain admittance.

    Sorry, but that’s how news of a closed gate landed on the heels of the pay-per-view news.

    “The Match” was never going to be meaningful golf in any historical sense.

    This matchup was never going to rekindle the magic Tiger vs. Phil brought in their epic Duel at Doral in ’05.

    The $9 million was never going to buy the legitimacy a major championship or PGA Tour Sunday clash could bring.

    It was never going to be more than an exhibition, with no lingering historical significance, but that was OK as quasi silly-season fare on TV on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23), the traditional weekend of the old Skins Game.

    “The Match” still has a chance to be meaningful, but first and foremost as entertainment, not real competition. That’s what this was always going to be about, but now the bar is raised.

    Pay per view does that.

    “You get what you pay for” is an adage that doesn’t apply to free (or already-paid for) TV. It does to pay per view. Expectations go way up when you aren’t just channel surfing to a telecast. So the higher the price tag they end up putting on this showdown, the more entertaining this has to be.

    If Phil brings his “A-Game” to his trash talking, and if Tiger can bring some clever repartee, this can still be fun. If the prerecorded segments wedged between shots are insightful, even meaningful in their ability to make us understand these players in ways we didn’t before, this will be worthwhile.

    Ultimately, “The Match” is a success if it leaves folks who paid to see it feeling as if they weren’t as ripped off as the people who refused to pay for it. That’s the handicap a history of free golf on TV brings. Welcome to pay-per-view, Tiger and Phil.

    Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State University athletics

    Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena

    By Associated PressOctober 15, 2018, 7:28 pm

    AMES, Iowa – A judge has scheduled a January trial for a 22-year-old Iowa drifter charged with killing a top amateur golfer from Spain.

    District Judge Bethany Currie ruled Monday that Collin Richards will stand trial Jan. 15 for first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena.

    Richards entered a written not guilty plea Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. The filing canceled an in-person arraignment hearing that had been scheduled for later Monday.

    Investigators say Richards attacked Barquin on Sept. 17 while she was playing a round at a public course in Ames, near the university campus. Her body was found in a pond on the course riddled with stab wounds.

    Richards faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

    LeBron's son tries golf, and he might be good at everything

    By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 5:36 pm

    LeBron James' son seems well on his way to a successful basketball career of his own. To wit:

    View this post on Instagram

    Finally got it down lol

    A post shared by Bronny James (@bronnyjames.jr) on

    But with just a little work, he could pass on trying to surpass his father and try to take on Tiger and Jack, instead.

    Bronny posted this video to Instagram of him in sandals whacking balls off a mat atop a deck into a large body of water, which is the golfer's definition of living your best life.

    View this post on Instagram

    How far, maybe 400 #happygilmore

    A post shared by Bronny James (@bronnyjames.jr) on

    If you listen closely, at the end of the clip, you can just barely hear someone scream out for a marine biologist.