CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- This time, it looks like Rory Sabbatini has burned his last get-out-of-jail-free card.
The colorful South African star last week was involved in his second on-course incident this year when he engaged in a public argument with another player, just weeks after he was put on a short leash by PGA Tour administrators for a similar outburst in Los Angeles.
As a result, he is facing an almost certain suspension in the near future, a tour official familiar with both incidents who spoke on condition of anonymity said Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Championship.
Sabbatini, a six-time tour winner who sometimes wrestles to keep his emotions in check, last week got into an argument on the course at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans with playing partner Sean O'Hair, who was also his playing partner earlier in the year when Sabbatini went ballistic at Riviera Country Club in L.A.
Sabbatini, after completing his pro-am round Wednesday evening, shrugged off any suggestion that he's in dutch with officials and dismissed it as a crazy rumor.
"Well, I am playing this week so I wouldn't worry about it too much, OK, guys?" he said. "That's what it is, it's a rumor."
At Riviera, Sabbatini berated a Shotlink volunteer who tried to come to the player's aid on the fifth hole after the South African hit a shot into some deep rough. The volunteer left the Shotlink tower, found a ball in the calf-high rough, and marked its location with a beverage container.
When Sabbatini arrived, he lost his temper and screamed at the volunteer, claiming the ball had been pushed deeper into the rough as a result of the bottle being placed in close proximity. According to caddie Frank Williams, who works for Stewart Cink, the third member of the group, Sabbatini had a complete meltdown.
"It was as bad as I have ever seen," Williams told CBSSports.com a few weeks after the incident.
A witness said Sabbatini ultimately removed his belt and threw it to the ground in disgust. According to the tour source familiar with the incident, Sabbatini was initially suspended for the Riviera behavior, but volunteered to a complete a list of stipulations in order to escape the penalty. Included was writing a formal letter of apology to the Shotlink volunteer.
The tour eventually rescinded the suspension and he didn't miss any starts. Sabbatini acknowledged to CBSSports.com in March that he was out of line and working on his temper issues, had agreed to pen the apology and that even his wife was furious at him, but because no suspension was meted out, he continued to play and the incident went largely unnoticed.
As the Riviera incident was being considered by the tour, Sabbatini won the Honda Classic in early March. The particulars of the New Orleans outburst remain hazy, including what precipitated it and whether it was related to the Riviera incident.
Pointedly asked after the pro-am if he was facing a suspension or under scrutiny, Sabbatini was equal parts defiant and testy.
"No, that is just all rumor, bud," he said. "You are going based on a rumor. How many times do I have to tell you?"
Pat Perez, the third player in the group in New Orleans, on Wednesday repeatedly declined to describe the altercation, which took place in a tee box during the second round.
"I am not going to be the guy on the front page," Perez said Wednesday at the tournament site. "It's for us to sort out."
The process has already begun, apparently. Andy Pazder, the tour’s No. 2 man and the czar of discipline, was seen speaking with Sabbatini on Tuesday on the Quail Hollow Club grounds, according to one report.
O'Hair, the 2009 tournament winner at Quail Hollow, withdrew from the tournament on Monday, though the tour source said it was for personal reasons and unrelated to the Sabbatini incident. Given O'Hair's even, low-key disposition, a suspension seems unlikely.
"[He] wasn't suspended and doesn't care to comment," O'Hair's agent, Jon Wagner, said in an email.
As has always been the case, tour communications chief Ty Votaw declined to comment on any pending disciplinary issues or confirm that the matter was under review.
According to the PGA Tour's handbook, players have two weeks from the time they’re notified of the punishment to respond with “facts or evidence of mitigating circumstances.” However, Sabbatini's circumstances are a little more complicated given his probationary status of sorts.
Given that Sabbatini, 35, was playing on a zero-tolerance leash because of his previous behavior, a suspension with little possibility of appeal was all but certain, the tour source predicted.
If the tour sticks to its two-week appeals window, that means Sabbatini could be benched during the Byron Nelson and Colonial events, tournaments he has won over the past four seasons. He lives in Fort Worth, Tex.