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Remember those folk who said golf in the Olympics would mean nothing to top tour pros? They obviously hadn’t counted on Rory Sabbatini.

The six-time PGA Tour inner has changed his nationality specifically with a view to improving his chances of playing in the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

The 42-year-old South African will play under the flag of Slovakia after becoming a citizen of the eastern European country just before the New Year.

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Sabbatini’s wife Martina hails from the country and, after switching allegiances last Wednesday at the Consulate General of the Slovak Republic in New York, he said he was excited to start representing his new home.

“I believe that I will be successful for Slovak golf and will be a source of inspiration for Slovak youth,” he told reporters.

Rory Sabbatini

The Slovak Golf Association has already confirmed that it intends to send proof of citizenship to the International Golf Federation, which would allow Sabbatini to officially represent the country on tour and become eligible to play for them in the next Olympics.

Rastislav Antal, vice president of the Slovak Golf Association, said: “We believe that Rory will be able to achieve successful results for Slovak golf and can raise the interest of our public and our children to become actively interested in golfing.”

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Sabbatini’s prospects of playing in the next Games look pretty good at the moment. He is currently 203rd on the world rankings. The Olympic field comprises a maximum of two players from each country – four if they are among the top 15 – until the field totals 60 players. As it stands, the 60th player in the Olympic ranking is Daan Huizing, who is the world No.304.

The current top Slovak golfer on the Official World Golf Ranking is Petr Valasek, ranked 1,934th.


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Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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