Sabbatini apologizes to Crane after snapping

Updated: June 14, 2005, 3:15 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PINEHURST, N.C. -- Rory Sabbatini certainly displayed poor etiquette at the Booz Allen Classic on Sunday, but many of his peers are nonetheless delighted it has brought the issue of slow play back into focus.

For those who missed it, Sabbatini got fed up with the slow play of fellow competitor Ben Crane, a noted slow player, with whom he was paired for the final round at Congressional.

Sabbatini's fuse snapped when he hit his second shot at the par-4 17th into the pond beyond the green. He walked all the way to the green and then beyond it, before Crane had even played his second shot.

Then, after Crane hit his approach, Sabbatini chipped onto the green, putted out and then walked off to the 18th tee rather than follow the usual protocol of waiting near the edge of the green while his fellow competitor completed the hole.

"I would like to apologize for the unfortunate incident that took place at the Booz Allen Classic," Sabbatini said in a statement issued Monday from Pinehurst. "I was quite frustrated with the pace of play, something that has become an all too frequent occurrence on golf courses around the world, and reacted inappropriately.

"Ben and I remain good friends and have already discussed scheduling a practice round together in the near future."

Crane is not in the field at the U.S. Open.

Sabbatini actions at the Booz Allen were a big talking point on the range at the U.S. Open on Monday, and an unscientific poll suggested that most were pleased to see Crane's slow play brought to public attention.

"We all feel for Rory," Geoff Ogilvy said. "He played three rounds with Ben and Ben will admit that's painful. I think there are better ways to do it than the way Rory did it. It's good the issue is out there but, unfortunately, Rory came off looking like an idiot.

"Rory made an interesting decision to speed up play and didn't invite Ben along," quipped Stuart Appleby. "It's not the right thing to do but it's not something that happened over one day. Rory felt he needed to stress a point and was going to take things into his own hands."

Neither Ogilvy nor Appleby has any realistic expectation that the incident will make any real difference to the pace of play. After all, officials the world over have proved themselves incapable of taking the necessary action to solve the problem, which is to dish out penalty strokes to the worse offenders, instead of inconsequential warnings and small fines.

"It's always a touchy subject on tour," Appleby said. "I don't know if it will make any difference, but it has brought some attention to slow play."

"It's always going to be an issue," Ogilvy said. "Ben knows he's a slow player and he will speed up but then someone else will come along."

Information from SportsTicker was used in this report.