Sabbatini irks Tiger

By Brian Keogh

Rory Sabbatini will feel the wrath of Tiger Woods after his shock withdrawal from the Target World Challenge.

The controversial South African pulled out before the final round "for personal reasons", though his agent contradicted him by reporting that he was suffering from shin splints.

Whatever the reason, Woods was visibly annoyed as Sabbatini became the first man to leave early in the nine-year history of the event.

Woods said: "I've heard he had shin splints. I heard he pulled out for personal reasons. He packed his locker up at 3 o'clock yesterday, I think headed to Hawaii.

"A lot of different things going on. And I'd like to try and get to the bottom of it when I'm done here, and we'll see what happens."

Sabbatini still pocketed $170,000 even though he was 28 shots behind Woods in last place after finishing his third round with a quadruple bogey eight.

Asked if he was bothered by Sabbatini’s withdrawal, Woods said nothing but spoke volumes with his icy stare.

Most of the other players in the field simply shook their heads when asked about the incident.

Veterans Fred Couples a pulled no punches and urged Sabbatini to donate his prize money to the Tiger Woods Foundation, adding: "He's messing with the wrong guy."

Mark Calcavecchia said: "Rory is Rory. I think I could have toughed it out one more round. I don’t think the fans missed him."

Jim Furyk felt Sabbatini should have stuck around and "rubbed a few elbows" for the sake of the sponsors.

Sabbatini rubbed Woods up the wrong way earlier this year, saying: "I've seen Tiger when he hits the ball well. I've seen him when he figures it out. It's scary. I don't want to see that anymore. I like the new Tiger."

Open champion Padraig Harrington thought long and hard about the issue, then said: "Is there anything you can say about it? I don't think there is."

After a long pause, he added: "It's Christmas."