Crane's Slow Play Bothers Sabbatini

By Gene Wang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 13, 2005

One of the PGA Tour's faster players, Rory Sabbatini got paired with Ben Crane, known for his deliberate manner on the golf course, for yesterday's final round of the Booz Allen Classic, and the combination proved volatile.

Sabbatini was seen admonishing Crane for his slow play as they were walking off the course at Congressional Country Club, and the winner of this event in 2003 also showed his displeasure by playing ahead on hole No. 17, walking toward the 18th tee and leaving his partner in the fairway.

That incident came soon after the duo had been warned and timed over the previous holes for slow play. By the time Sabbatini and Crane reached No. 17, they were no longer being timed.

"Rory was frustrated because we were on the clock, and I understand that," Crane said after his closing 4-under 67 left him in a three-way tie for second with Davis Love III and Adam Scott, last year's champion. "Technically, we were off the clock [on No. 17]. Rory wanted to keep playing, and that's fine. I understand he's frustrated, and I feel bad. I can't change the situation, but I am the one who caused the problem."

Sabbatini declined to speak with reporters after his round of 1-under 70 that included a bogey on No. 17, where he hit his approach into the water behind the green. Sabbatini finished in sixth place, three shots behind Crane and five behind winner Sergio Garcia.

The events also clearly seemed to enrage Sabbatini's pregnant wife, who had been following her husband throughout his round. She made what appeared to be scathing remarks to ABC golf analyst Judy Rankin, then grabbed her husband by the arm and led him away from the interview area outside the scoring booth.

Rankin said it was understandable why Sabbatini's wife was upset but did not recount specifics of the exchange. Crane, meantime, was forthcoming about his measured game.

"I'm working hard to pick it up. Not only will it be better for my playing partners but better for me also," Crane said. "I'm doing all I can. I need to work on picking up the pace, and I understand that."

The gallery around the 466-yard par-4 No. 17 appeared to sympathize with Crane. Some spectators booed Sabbatini at the 17th green after he had left Crane standing over his second shot.

"I just tried to do what I know how to do, and that's get over the shot and hit the best shot I could," said Crane, who landed his approach within 17 feet and two-putted for par. "That's really what it was all about. If someone is still, it's not a big deal. If someone is moving around, but [Sabbatini] wasn't moving around, so it was okay."

Special correspondent Kathy Orton contributed to this report.

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