Obviously a New Sabbatini as the 2008 PGA Tour season begins

Saturday January 12th, 2008
Rory Sabbatini eagled the final hole.
Stan Badz/PGA TOUR/WireImage.com

HONOLULU, HAWAII — Rory Sabbatini must think he's misunderstood. In a one-minute conversation with PGA Tour media officials on Thursday, the pro from South Africa used the word "obviously" six times:

"Well, obviously, the weather was very favorable today ... You know, you can obviously see the course is playing tough ..."

"I'm just giving myself a lot of opportunities for birdies. Obviously, that's key out here."

"Obviously, I birdied 2 today."

"Birdied 12, hit a 3-wood off the tee, hit an 8-iron in there to probably about seven, eight feet again. And then, obviously, made eagle on 18 ..."

"Obviously I've got a whole new bag this year and new equipment, new ball, everything like that."

Anyone who has ever had a 50-cent word like "basically" infect his speech will cut Sabbatini some slack for his verbal tic. But his overuse of "obviously" obviously implied that what was obvious to him was not so obvious to others.

In that spirit, here are a few observations about Sabbatini in the second week of the 2008 season:

• He shot a 66 in the first round of the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club. Obviously, Sabbatini has recovered from the shin splints that forced him to blow off the final round of last month's Target World Challenge, hosted by Tiger Woods.

• He didn't go to the Waialae press room to talk about his 66. Obviously, Sabbatini is still smarting over press and player criticism of his Target withdrawal, for which he earned $170,000 despite being 28 strokes behind Woods through three rounds.

• He didn't mention Woods even once in his 278 word quick-quotes Q-and-A. Obviously, Sabbatini is sick of talking about his 2007 quote that yanked Tiger's tail, the line about Tiger being "more beatable than ever."

No problem. As a paid-up member of the Newspaper Guild, I'm more interested in Sabbatini's semantics than his sand saves. His "obviously" rash reminds me of Fred Couples' "literally" breakout a few years back, which had the popular touring pro delivering press-room gems along the lines of " ... and then I had literally 152 yards to the green, and I turned to my caddie and said, 'If I knock this close and make the putt, I'm literally tied for the lead,' but when I got over the ball — I mean literally when I was about to pull the trigger — I decided that an 8-iron was too much ..."

Couples, I hasten to add, was in good company. I've never forgotten the plummy narrator of a BBC documentary that ran on PBS a few years ago. This literate fellow, reporting on the sudden rise to power of Edward David, Prince of Wales, assured his audience that Edward was "literally catapulted onto the throne." (We lose more kings that way.)

So, to Sabbatini I say this: Take two dictionaries and call me in the morning.

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