Rory Sabbatini is taking a ton of heat for having a spectator removed after the the guy heckled him at the WGC this weekend. Apparently a guy waited the entire day at the ninth hole for Rory to come walking by just so he could yell, "Hey Rory, do you still think Tiger's beatable now?" (admittedly, that's awfully funny). After getting heckled, Rory had the guy thrown out:
Heckler Guy: ''It was the last time I was going to see him. I didn't mean anything by it. I was hanging out there all day, waiting for him to come by. I was watching the leaderboard . . . I figured he was talking a better game than he was playing. I think Rory stopped and pointed at me and asked me to get thrown out, and they obliged.''Because of this, Rory's been labeled a cry-baby, a pussy and then things got REALLY bad when he received the ignoble "Just Shut Up" award from ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike in The Morning today. The reason behind the ribbing from the media is because Sabbatini had the gall to say that because Tiger looked a little rusty after shooting a 75 at the Players' Championship (back in fucking May) that Tiger looked "more beatable than ever." So in the eyes of those criticizing him, he brought this on himself and should be forced to ignore any and all comments lobbed his way. But here's the thing: Rory didn't really say anything.
Sabbatini didn't say he was going to beat him or that Tiger sucks or anything that would seem even mildly controversial. But because it's Tiger, even the INTIMATION that he is somehow mortal is such a sin (an especially dastardly sin because it came from a foreigner) that Sabbatini got KILLED for it. So much so that the next day he had to clarify his comments for everyone, and his clarification should have been enough. Sabbatini said:
"If you're going to challenge yourself, you need to challenge yourself against the best, and Tiger is the best. I never intended a dig at Tiger. I basically stated that I wanted to compete against him. He's the number one player in the world, and I think I have the ability to get there myself."He was basically saying that for awhile he viewed Tiger as untouchable. And now he's playing better and Tiger's come back down to earth so he feels he can compete with him more so than he did perviously. What the hell's wrong with that? I just don't really get what all the fuss is about. But what I really don't get about this weekend's story is that some guy was heckling Rory about the comment and somehow RORY was the bad guy for getting the guy kicked out!
You see, this is not the first time that a PGA golfer has asked to have a spectator removed. In a cursory review of coverage of similar events I found two times recently where a Tour Pro had a spectator removed. And in both of these circumstances the article portrayed the golfers as victims of heckling in contrast to the way Rory is being portrayed as a guy who is getting what he deserves. In 2004, Davis Love III sounds like a spoiled brat after getting a guy removed because of this behavior:
The man let out a "Whoop!" when Love missed a par putt on the 20th hole that squared the match. The fan started yelling, "No Love!" as Love stepped to his ball on the fifth tee. Love sought out the fan and said he wouldn't continue until he was found.DL 3 pulled out the "respect your elders" card and he got a pass! His comments sound remarkably similar to those of Shooter McGavin in Happy Gilmore. DL's comments are much more ridiculous than Rory's actions (Rory did say that he had the guy kicked out because his actions lacked class, which is kind of ironic if you know Rory Sabbatini and have heard the filth flarn filth that comes out of his mouth over the course of 18 holes). Love comes off as a complete asshole.
"I think it's our whole society," he (Love) said. "They don't respect what other people do, don't respect your elders, don't respect other people's space, don't' respect traditions or etiquette or customs. You see it in every sport, you see it walking down he street, not holding the door open for a lady when you're supposed to."
If the heckler wasn't bad enough, Love said fans offered him beers at least five times during the tournament while he was walking between holes.
"I don't drink beer when I'm out at dinner, like last night," he said. "I don't need a beer when I just birdied a hole or when I just bogeyed a hole.
"People just assume we're out here screwing around, and we're not screwing around, we're playing hard. ... I don't come into your office and screw you up Don't come into my office and screw me up."
The second incident involved a UK golfer who was previously quoted as saying he "hates Americans" (when asked about the American Ryder Cup team, Casey actually said, "Oh, we properly hate them. We wanted to beat them as badly as possible." The UK's Daily Mirror used that comment and others to run the headline "Americans are Stupid. I Hate Them." Maybe a slight mischaracterization which ultimately led to him losing his Titleist sponsorship.). Casey later clarified that statement by noting that he was talking about the American Ryder Cup team and in no way did he mean to offend citizens of the U.S., but the damage had been done and Casey knew sooner or later he'd hear about it. Well he did. In 2005, Casey was playing in Miami when he was met with this guy:
"He yelled, 'Shank it in the trees. You won't catch Phil (Mickelson). He's American, you're not.' He was just being outrageously bad.Casey and his playing partner had to hold up the tournament for about 15 minutes while security found the guy and kicked him out. This differed from the DL 3 and more closely mirrors the Sabbatini situation as it was only one comment that got the guy kicked out and the guy was making reference to an earlier statement. But again, the article was in the vein of "woe is Paul Casey for having to endure this ugly incident." The guy who made the comment actually thought that Paul Casey hated him and Americans in general and because of that wanted to give Casey a piece of his mind, and STILL Rory Sabbatini's actions were perceived as less justified.
All this being said, I think Rory acted like a complete pussy here. He really just should have laughed it off. It's awfully lame to let hecklers get you off your game or to react in any way at all to their provocation. If you're a pro and as combustible and polarizing as Rory Sabbatini, you should know better than do shit like this. But my greater problem is that the media is portraying this as Rory's just desert for having opened his mouth to point out a chink in the armor of the great Tiger Woods. I thought his comments were f'n great and it obviously takes balls to say it because of the way in which he got killed for uttering even the most benign of utterances. It makes for great drama and Rory makes a great villain. With Phil falling off the map, Vijay slowing down and no consistent competition in sight, Rory v. Tiger is really the most interesting battle left. Tiger's already smoked all his peers, let's see what he can do with a nemesis.