Rory Sabbatini winning a PGA Tour event should really have become a ho-hum affair, but his seventh victory on the tour in the Honda Classic over the weekend was marked by a sense that it was just a little special.
The man who seemed to pull the trigger before he checked the ammunition was dry when he said that Tiger Woods was as beatable as anyone Â when the former world number one was at the height of his powers Â and infamously left Ben Crane behind late in the round because he felt he was playing too slowly suddenly came over all cuddly and lovable.
He held off a charging YE Yang as the 2009 PGA champion fired a four-under-par 66 to move to within one shot of SabbatiniÂs nine-under-par total for the tournament as he got back into the winnerÂs circle for the first time since May 2009 when he won the Byron Nelson Championship.
The obligatory greeting by his wife on the green seemed a little sweeter than usual for Sabbatini, and it was.
ÂObviously, this win is very special,Â he said. ÂEach win kind of feels like the first and this one has its own unique qualities to it. ItÂs been a stretch; IÂve had a tough road. My wife had some health issues with the delivery of our baby, and it was a very concerning time there. And then my having to go through what I went through with my skin cancer, and then her father just went through it recently.Â
So the cowboy hat is not just the transplanted TexanÂs affectation, but basic medical common sense.
And heÂs hyper-aware of his reputation: ÂIÂm a passionate golfer, I really am,Â he said. ÂIÂve had my moments and IÂm not proud of everything IÂve done out here, but IÂm trying to learn. IÂm trying to be a role model for my children and I know as my wife has said to me, I wouldnÂt want my son doing some of the things that IÂve done in the past.
ÂSo I definitely have to take into account that my son is old enough now that he understands everything that I do, and really try and be a role model for him.Â
The men who he held off to win are also impressed.
ÂI commend him for being I guess so emotionally stable,Â Yang said. ÂUsually if youÂre in the front, if youÂre running away from somebody, you tend to be a bit nervous. But in RoryÂs case, he seemed really calm.Â
ÂHe gets in his own way an awful lot and rubs some people the wrong way,Â said Jerry Kelly, who finished third. ÂI can relate to that because IÂm the same type of person. But he usually has the best intentions for everybody else around him. Today, he did not let his emotions get the best of him.Â
Sabbatini relished it: ÂIt definitely is kind of turning over a new leaf, so it really does feel good. It does feel like a fresh start in a sense.Â
It was the eighth tournament in eight weeks for him, who won a spot in the Masters with his performance, and leapt 50 places on the world rankings Â his 52nd position is closer to familiar territory for him than his 102nd from last week.