Olympics-Golf-Sabbatini sets eyes on medal to inspire young Slovak golfers
After finishing his second round at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday, tour veteran Rory Sabbatini did a fist-bump with his Slovakian wife Martina, a reminder of his unlikely allegiance to the eastern European country.
After finishing his second round at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday, tour veteran Rory Sabbatini did a fist-bump with his Slovakian wife Martina, a reminder of his unlikely allegiance to the eastern European country. Durban-born Sabbatini, a six-time winner on the U.S. PGA Tour, represented South Africa at a slew of World Cups and won the team-based event with Trevor Immelman in 2003.
However, after his second marriage, the 45-year-old took Slovakian citizenship at the end of 2018, setting up an unlikely bid for Olympic gold. "Originally the whole principle about me getting my Slovak citizenship and representing Slovakia is to try and generate interest among the junior golfers and to create future generations of Slovak golfers," he told Reuters at Kasumigaseki Country Club, after shooting 67 to be six-under at the halfway mark, currently five strokes behind leader American Xander Schauffele. The round was suspended due to bad weather.
"Hopefully, I'll give them something to cheer about this weekend and inspire a few new golfers and maybe some desire to be future Olympians. "To get a medal would be something amazing."
His wife's cousin is the president of the Slovak Golf Association but Sabbatini received no favours in booking his spot at the Games. Former top-10 player Sabbatini is now world number 204 but the next best Slovak, Petr Valasek, is ranked 848th.
Sabbatini said he had enjoyed mixing with the country's athletes at the Olympic Village and felt embraced by the Slovak people. "It's been a great environment to be around all the Slovak athletes and the Olympic team," he said.
"They've been very hospitable and welcoming and we had a lot of fun in the team room."
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