‘I’ve never seen that in all years I’ve played’: Pro WD’s, but doesn’t leave

Rory Sabbatini

Rory Sabbatini couldn’t play. So instead he worked.

In one of the more, we’ll call it, unusual things you’ll see in a professional golf tournament, Sabbatini withdrew with a knee injury after 13 holes from Saturday’s third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, only he quit from playing. He continued to walk with playing partner Anirban Lahiri, rather than hike back to the clubhouse.

And on the par-3 17th hole at Bay Hill, Sabbatini grabbed a rake, took 13 swipes with it and cleaned up the mark Lahiri had left in a greenside bunker. 

“Now this is strange,” announcer Jimmy Roberts said on the Golf Channel broadcast. “So we told you that Rory Sabbatini withdrew after the 13th hole. He was playing with Aniban Lahiri. But he’s continued to walk with him. Not only walk with him, Peter …”

“He’s grooming,” analyst Peter Jacobsen said.  

“He’s raking the bunkers,” Roberts said. “Just really unusual, don’t you think?” 

“I’ve never seen that in all the years I’ve played out here,” Jacobsen said. “Never seen a player withdraw and hang out. Look at him, there’s the limp you can see on his bad knee.”

Indeed there was a limp, as Sabbatini appeared to be favoring his right knee. Earlier in the round, he played the front nine at three-over, double-bogeyed the 10th, bogeyed the 11th and double-bogeyed the 13th before withdrawing. 

After the round, Sabbatini nor Lahiri talked to reporters. Last week, after shooting a first-round 65 at the Honda Classic, the 45-year-old Sabbatini mused about how he was “getting to that point in my game where I think I’ve gotten past where I feel like I’m, I hate to say it, truly competitive out here.”

“There’s too many guys out here that have much more firepower, so I’ve just got to kind of pick and choose my way around the golf course, so to me it’s become more of a chess game and less about throwing some darts out there,” said Sabbatini, who won the silver medal at last year’s Olympic golf tournament. “I think I’ve just learned to maximize what my abilities are and stay away from my inabilities.” 

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