September 23, 2014

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Bridgestone notebook: Sabbatini has heckling fan tossed

 

AKRON — Rory Sabbatini has a reputation for saying what he thinks.
But apparently he doesn’t always like hearing what other people think.
A frustrated Sabbatini had a fan tossed out of Firestone Country Club on Sunday for making what seemed to be a rather innocuous comment.
Sabbatini, who earlier this year had said he thought Tiger Woods was “as beatable as ever,” had already gone from a stroke up on Woods to start the day to six behind after making double bogey at nine, a long par 4.
As Sabbatini headed for the 10th tee, Steve Banky of Cuyahoga Falls leaned in from behind a tree in the gallery to shoot a little barb the South African’s way.
“Hey, Rory, do you still think Tiger’s beatable?” asked Banky.
Sabbatini’s response? He told Bridgestone officials to, “Take this (expletive) out of here.”
So they did.
“I guess I’ve been dismissed,” said Banky, who said he’s an EMS teacher at Stark State College. “I didn’t mean anything by it. I just figured he talks a better game than he plays.”
Sabbatini was unapologetic about having Banky removed from the course.
“We’re out here to do our job,” Sabbatini said. “Let us do our job.
“You know, even on 18 there, the guys were being very insulting towards Kenny Perry’s first putt.
“Have a little bit of decorum and a little bit of class out there. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. But I guess a few too many beers were talking.”
Woods thought Sabbatini would have been better off just ignoring the comment.
“You just have to become immune to it, you just have to,” Woods said. “The more you acknowledge it, the worse it gets.”

A wild ride

Woods didn’t exactly play the ninth hole the recommended way Sunday, but he still managed a par.
He’d be the first to admit he had some luck on his side.
After pulling his tee shot — “I almost hit the ball in the 10th fairway” — Woods tried to “cut” a 9-iron around the trees and land it on the left side of the green.
He pulled the shot instead and it clattered around in the trees. When he found the ball, it was lodged in the crook of a poncho-wearing woman’s left arm.
Woods asked if she was OK, then took a drop and hit a “terrible” pitch over the green some 18 feet from the hole. Woods proceeded to sink his chip shot for par.
“Four shots,” he said dryly.
The ninth, of course, is the same hole on which he hit a ball onto the clubhouse roof last year during the second round. Instead of the ball being ruled out of bounds, Woods was allowed a free drop and went on to bogey the hole.
He eventually beat Stewart Cink in a playoff.

Ohio is Tiger country

Woods also heard some interesting comments while striding the fairways Sunday. Comments like, “Come be our quarterback.”
“Safety, too,” said Woods, who doesn’t plan to change careers any time soon.
“Are you kidding me?” Woods said. “Those big guys? I’ll be the little water boy. … I chose my sport.”

Just the facts, Jack

Chris DiMarco shot a final-round 70 to tie for fourth and notch his first top-10 finish on the PGA Tour since finishing second to Woods at last year’s British Open.
He’s hoping a certain famous Ohio golfer took notice.
“Hopefully, Mr. (Jack) Nicklaus is watching and seeing my game is coming around,” said DiMarco, who would love to be named to this year’s President’s Cup team that has Nicklaus as its captain.
“I desperately want to be on that team. I haven’t really voiced that because I haven’t had anything to prove it. But my game has really been consistent.”
DiMarco, who has battled injuries, and fell out of the top 30 on the money list last year for the first time since 1999, made the birdie putt that clinched the Cup for the U.S. against the International team two years ago.
“I’m hoping he remembers that really well,” DiMarco said of Nicklaus. “I’m hoping he’s thinking about that every night.”

Roughing it

You can bet Andres Romero won’t miss the rough at Firestone South.
Not after swinging and completely missing his ball Sunday on one attempt to get out of the deep stuff.
Barely off the green on the par-4 10th in three shots, Romero’s fourth swing swept directly under the ball. If the ball moved, it was only due to the wind the club generated as it whistled through the gnarly grass.
Romero’s fifth shot went well past the hole and he ended up with a triple bogey.
(Chronicle-Telegram sportswriter Brad Bournival contributed
to this notebook.)
Contact Kevin Aprile at kaprile@chroniclet.com.