FIVE TOP 10 finishes (including a win at the Crowne Plaza Invitational), $2.8 million in winnings and a rise to No. 6 in the FedEx Cup rankings would have been enough to bring Rory Sabbatini attention entering this week’s U.S. Open. But just to make sure, the Durban, South Africa, native also opened his mouth. Last month he called Tiger Woods “as beatable as ever” and said he hoped to get paired with him. Two weeks ago Sabbatini, 31, declared he would “get to Number 1” in the world by next year. (He’s now No. 13, up 26 slots from the start of the year.) O.K., Rory, let the Open begin.
On why he’s been playing so well
I’ve gotten the body out of the way [of my swing]. As my physical therapist says, you get the body out of the way and let the talent go. I’m playing well, but I don’t think it’s my best golf. I’ve got that ahead of me.
On the part of his game he’s working hardest to improve
Driving the golf cart [laughs]. I don’t really spend more time on a specific part of the game because all parts of the game are important. But if there is anything, it’s chipping and putting.
On being heavily involved with the Fallen Heroes Fund and wearing camouflage pants while playing as a reminder of U.S. troops in combat
It was something my wife [Amy] and I found out about. They were working to fund families of soldiers who were killed in action because the benefits from the government were so pitiful. Now that the benefits are better, [the group has] shifted its focus to helping men and women who were injured in action to readjust to society. I don’t consider myself an American, but this is where I live — you hate to see people in a position of giving their lives and livelihoods to provide us security for what we do.
On driving a customized RV on tour
With the kids [Harley, 3, and Tylie Jo, 1], we figured it would be a great way to have a consistent environment. It prevents you from getting as mentally and physically fatigued. I go back to the same bedroom every night and don’t have to cross through hotel lobbies. I park and cook my meals right there. It’s easy. I’m friends with John Daly. We usually park next to each other. We have grills on the side of our RVs, and we flip a coin over who cooks the steaks.
On why he plays few tournaments in July and August
I just like to take some time off and spend it at the lake [Possum Kingdom Lake, in northern Texas]. I go out to the middle of the lake, throw a line in the water and fish.
On getting into golf
By age 11, I had decided I wanted to be a professional golfer. I used to spend hours on the range, just hitting balls and trying to create shots. I think it was the creativity of trying to manipulate the golf ball around that intrigued me.
On catching flak for passing slow-playing Ben Crane when the two were paired at the 2005 Booz Allen
I don’t look at it as I played ahead of him. He played behind me. I can understand the [negative] reaction, but there’s been reaction on both sides. I still have people come up to me and say they appreciate what I did because they hate slow play too. My wife and I keep joking that we’ll start up a golf course where you have to play in less than 3 1/2 hours.
On his prediction for the U.S. Open
I’m expecting a top 10.