Rory Sabbatini plays quickly. Ben Crane, a Tour winner, has a reputation for playing rather slowly. Like oil and water, the two often don't mix, and when the group is put on the clock, a fast player quickly comes to resent the slow player.
Tour officials put the Sabbatini/Crane group on the clock Sunday at the Booz Allen Classic, but both players had caught up by the 17th hole and were off the clock. When Sabbatini hit his approach into the water, he walked behind the green and prepared to make his drop before Ben Crane could hit his approach shot. Sabbatini was nearly directly behind the flag, standing there, waiting for Crane to hit his shot. As soon as Crane's ball stopped moving, Sabbatini dropped, played his chip, walked onto the green, marked his ball, and then put his ball down and putted out. He then walked to the 18th tee before Crane finished out. He was booed, and booed again as he approached the 18th green (where Crane birdied from 50 feet away and Sabbatini managed to two-putt).
The two exchanged a palm slap that barely qualifies as a handshake before retiring the scorer's tent, Sabbatini chewing out Crane during most of the walk.
Though it's true that players who are put on the clock ten times in a year are given a substantial fine, this in no way excuses Rory Sabbatini's rude behavior. Paul Azinger took Sabbatini to task on the air, and I'm doing it now: his behavior was rude, uncalled for, and completely out of line.
I can understand being upset with a slow player. However, the slow player is a Tour winner and was within two shots of the lead, and walking ahead will do nothing to speed up play. Perhaps Sabbatini was trying to demonstrate to Tour officials that he was not the reason the group was put on the clock, but instead his display came off as selfish, jackassed, and completely discourteous of his playing partner.
Sabbatini should be fined for his actions.
Ben Crane, who Azinger remarked on the air was one of the nicest guys you could ever meet, attempted to diffuse the situation in a post-round interview, saying:
Rory's a fast player, and I'm a slow player, so the only reason we're on the clock is because of me. Is Rory out of line? No, not really. I'm the one who got us on the clock. I understand how he feels. Can that change it? No. I need to work on picking it up, but I obviously don't want to hit the shot before I'm ready.
Though I appreciate the humility and respect which Crane showed for his playing partner, I would not have blamed him for lashing out just a bit. I don't think anyone else - particularly those who booed Sabbatini after witnessing the event - would either.