Despite reports to the contrary, the profanity-laced argument between Sean O’Hair and Rory Sabbatini at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans two weeks ago did not concern slow play.
“I think I wish I would have handled it better,” O’Hair told a group of reporters following the second round of The Players Championship. “I’m not going to go into details, but I was defending myself and it wasn’t about pace of play. We waited on every shot for two days. That was not part of the issue.”Added O’Hair: “I talked to the PGA Tour and gave them my side of the story and I’m sure Rory did, too. I think the tour is dealing with it the best they know how.”
He also clarified he hadn’t pulled out of the Wells Fargo Championship because he’d been suspended. “I had to fire [swing instructor] Sean [Foley], things were going on with my game, and I was feeling overwhelmed, and so it was time to take the week off and work on my game and I think it’s showing.”
Asked if he felt his behavior warranted suspension, O’Hair replied with a resolute “No.”
Last week O’Hair received a text message from Sabbatini, saying to call him. Sabbatini apologized and so did O’Hair.
“Life’s too short to hold grudges,” said O’Hair. “To be honest with you, Rory’s not a bad guy. When I first came out on tour I liked Rory. I wouldn’t handle some of the things how he handles them, but that’s just a difference in personality.
“He does a lot of positive things for the armed forces and a lot of charity work. There’s a lot of good that he does, so I don’t think there’s any point in trying to avoid him in the locker room or anything like that. At some point I’m going to have to play with him, and I’m just not a type of guy that likes to not like people.”
Sabbatini, who was less forthcoming when approached, continued to deny reports of his impending suspension. However, he confirmed he and Sean had spoken, and he also wanted to move forward.
“We have to work out here and you don’t want there to be any ill feelings or tension between anyone,” said Sabbatini, while signing autographs after firing 71 on Friday for a two-day total of six-under.
One reporter informed Sabbatini that Butch Harmon reported on Sky News he’d heard Sabbatini could be suspended as early as Monday. “You guys go for the fishing stories, it’s unbelievable,” said Sabbatini, shaking his head. “I don’t know where [Butch is] getting his information, but he might want to check his sources.”
It’s been a tumultuous couple of weeks for O’Hair, but finally, with a better frame of mind, he’s playing better and feels more comfortable with his game. After missing five cuts in a row, he shot consecutive rounds of 71, making the weekend with ease.
“I can’t complain — I’m really pleased to just be playing the weekend, to be honest with you,” cracked O’Hair, who reconnected with former teacher Steve Dahlby. “I’m just playing better, I feel more comfortable.
“My mind was cluttered. It was just me — it had nothing to do with Foley or the way he was teaching me. It was me trying to protect the swing. I’m just back to what’s natural.”