Sabbatini says stories of confrontation are untrue
Thursday, May 5, 2011
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Sitting at his locker changing his shoes after his afternoon pro-am round at the Wells Fargo Championship early Wednesday evening, Rory Sabbatini did not appear very concerned about the allegations swarming about the grounds at Quail Hollow that he’s facing an imminent suspension from the PGA Tour.
Alleged to have had a heated on-course confrontation with Sean O’Hair during the second round of last week’s Zurich Classic, Sabbatini said the stories reported by outlets such as The Associated Press and CBSSports.com were untrue. So, too, according to him, are reports he’ll be suspended later this month. It’s been reported that Sabbatini, who will compete at Wells Fargo beginning Thursday, has this week and next (Players Championship) to appeal what could be a 30-day suspension for conduct unbecoming.
“I heard it all,” Sabbatini said in the locker room after his pro-am. “Supposedly I had a fight with O’Hair and I told the tour to ‘F-off.’ Hearsay is hearsay.”
The “hearsay” which Sabbatini spoke of was a verbal disagreement that allegedly took place between O’Hair and Sabbatini on the 14th hole at TPC Louisiana. According to sources, Sabbatini spent much of last Thursday and Friday complaining about the speed of play. Eventually he asked O’Hair directly if he thought the speed of play was a problem and reportedly O’Hair said the problem was Sabbatini. Sources said O’Hair told Sabbatini that playing in a group with Sabbatini, a known speed-of-play advocate, was equal to a two-shot penalty for his playing competitors.
Sources said no other words were spoken during the round. Two sources said the two confronted each other again in the locker room.
“There is not anything I know about,” said Amy Sabbatini, Rory’s wife, when asked about any possible issues involving her husband. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Talk to the Tour.”
A PGA Tour source confirmed that reports of the incident reached PGA Tour headquarters and that an investigation from a possible prior incident earlier this season in Los Angeles – involving Sabbatini dressing down a teenage Shotlink volunteer – still was ongoing. Sabbatini was spotted on Tuesday at Quail Hollow having a lengthy conversation with Andy Pazder, the PGA Tour's chief of operations.
“I don’t think they will ever talk to each other again,” Pat Perez, the third member of the group at Zurich, said Wednesday regarding the O’Hair/Sabbatini incident from Zurich. “It’s never good to get in the middle of two guys in a heated discussion, so I walked away.”
After his pro-am round, Sabbatini termed the entire situation “crazy rumors.”
“Well I’m playing this week, so I wouldn’t worry about too much,” Sabbatini said.
Sabbatini was asked whether the Tour was investigating him for something that might have happened at Zurich.
“No, that’s just the rumor,” Sabbatini said. “You’re going based on a rumor. How many times do I have to tell you?”
Sabbatini, 35, a six-time winner on the PGA Tour, was the lone principal who would comment on the record. His agent, Bud Martin of Wasserman Media Group, would not comment. O’Hair’s agent, Jon Wagner of IMG, told CBSSports.com that O'Hair was not suspended and did not wish to comment. O’Hair, who has missed five consecutive cuts, withdrew from Wells Fargo earlier this week and was not on-site in Charlotte.
As a policy, the PGA Tour does not comment on any disciplinary action involving its players.