CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Rory Sabbatini could face suspension from the PGA Tour for what was described as a profanity-laced argument with Sean O’Hair during last week’s Zurich Classic in New Orleans.
According to multiple players and officials, it was the second time this year that Sabbatini has run into trouble because of his behavior on the golf course. The first incident was at Riviera in the Northern Trust Open, where Sabbatini was said to have spoken harshly to a teenage volunteer who was trying to help him find a lost ball.
The players and officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the tour keeps all disciplinary matters private.
O’Hair also was in Sabbatini’s group at Riviera. Two people familiar with the incident said the volunteer wrote a five-page letter to the PGA Tour, but Sabbatini escaped punishment by offering to apologize to anyone he offended.
Sabbatini won two weeks later at the Honda Classic.
Stewart Cink also played in the group with O’Hair and Sabbatini at Riviera.
“It was raining. It was hard. We were all stressed trying to make the cut, and I think we might have been behind,” Cink said Wednesday. “There were a lot of factors. And then the incident happened.”
Cink didn’t go into details and said it involved “another player in my group,” without mentioning Sabbatini by name.
“It was embarrassing for me as a golfer,” Cink said. “He did apologize directly to me. I hope he meant it and he moved on.”
Two people with direct knowledge of the Riviera incident said the teenager placed an empty plastic bottle on foot-high grass right of the fifth green where he thought Sabbatini hit his ball. Sabbatini is said to have berated the youth for affecting his ball, although it turned out the ball was not his. The grass was so dense that three other balls were found, none belonging to Sabbatini.
PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw would in an email that the tour was aware of what happened in New Orleans, and that it had responded to the incident at Riviera.
“We don’t discuss disciplinary matters,” Votaw said.