Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

When Rory Roars, Nothing Is Sacred

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

When Rory Roars, Nothing Is Sacred

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette

Many people can only take Rory Sabbatini in small doses. He touches nerves, sometimes coming across as over-the-top cocky, and other times eliciting laughter with a dry wit in which nothing is off-limits.

It all depends on the moment, and circumstances, in which you catch the prickly South African.

But one thing about The Players Championship first-round co-leader is indisputable: He has a way of attracting attention with a microphone or golf club in his hand.

There's rarely a dull moment. Whether Sabbatini is sniping at past playing partners Ben Crane or Nick Faldo for slow play, or publicly calling out Tiger Woods and taking playful digs at him, there's no middle ground with the man known as "Sabbo."

You're either going to embrace Sabbatini as golf's version of a Charles Barkley cut-up or hope he has five "snowmans" on his scorecard.

"I am a little different than everyone else," Sabbatini said. "Why not have some fun out there?"

In Thursday's opening round at The Players, Sabbatini was having fun from tee to green. Then afterward, from sound bite to sound bite.

Anyone who believed his 5-under-par 67, putting him atop the leaderboard with Phil Mickelson, was something to watch, they should have been around for his shoot-from-the-lip musings that followed:

-- Any regrets about saying he wanted to be paired with Woods in the final round at last week's Wachovia Championship, even though he shot 74 and lost to Tiger: "I'm not someone to participate to watch the show; I'm there to participate to win. I want to be paired with Tiger in the last group on Sunday here [at The Players]."

-- What if he gets Mickelson instead of Woods, who shot an opening-round 75: "No, I want Tiger. I want him to pick it up ,and we'll be up there late on Sunday."

-- On his skull-and-crossbones belt buckle, surrounded by undisclosed shiny stones, that he wore Thursday: "I have no idea whether it's a men's or women's, but to me, it doesn't matter. I like it."

-- Any significance to the belt buckle: "Tiger fears it."

-- On not always knowing when he's being serious or funny: "Trust me, it drives my wife [Amy] nuts. …

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