Travelers Championship

TPC River Highlands

The Loop

Sabbatini Keeps Quiet

January 07, 2008

Rory Sabbatini wouldn't address his withdrawal from last month's Target World Challenge at the Mercedes-Benz Championship, preferring to let his new Adams clubs do his talking. Sources at Nike Golf denied Sabbatini was let go at the request of Target host Tiger Woods, but Sabbo burned so many bridges by leaving Sherwood CC early it's doubtful he will ever be invited back. As for the $170,000 he earned that week, look for him to donate it to a charity connected with the Wounded Warriors program.

Mercedes contender Jonathan Byrd took a page from Zach Johnson's book by assembling his team for a preseason  strategy session. Led by sport psychologist Morris Pickens, who also works with Johnson, they targeted parts of Byrd's game that need attention. "It worked for Zach," said Byrd, who practiced with a heavy heart after his father, Jim, was diagnosed with a stage 4 brain tumor. After surgery and six weeks

of chemotherapy and radiation, Jim watched his son fall from third to 15th with a 74 Sunday at Kapalua. With his 30th birthday coming up Jan. 27, Byrd still has more wins (three) than any American player in his 20s--and hopes to increase that total at this week's Sony Open. "Four has a nice ring to it," he said.

Sporting a teenager's attempt at a moustache, Tadd Fujikawa warmed up for the Sony by playing the Mercedes-Benz Pro-Am. He thought so much of the invitation that he flew to Maui from Honolulu for a practice round. He's able to do that now because of endorsements with Aloha Petroleum and Kraft Foods. He also has deals pending with luxury-watch and health-insurance companies. Fujikawa, who turned 17 Tuesday, also will play at Pebble and has become an affiliate member of the European and Japan tours.

--Tim Rosaforte