The man who partnered with Rory Sabbatini to claim golf's World Cup for South Africa in 2003 has praised his former compatriot after he finished on the podium at the Tokyo Games.
Trevor Immelman, winner of The Masters in 2007, has lauded Sabbatini after he won the silver medal at Kasumigaseki Country Club.
Sabbatini, who, in January 2019, changed allegiances from the country of his birth to his wife's home nation, scythed through the field on the final day, carding a ten-under 61 to wind up in the medals.
Speaking to reporters afterwards, the six-time PGA Tour winner described receiving his medal as “a really prideful moment” and added that he hopes his achievement will inspire the next generation of golfers in his adopted homeland.
“Slovakia doesn't have anybody to represent them and so we looked at it as a way to use it as a springboard to try and create more interest in the game of golf in Slovakia and to create more interest amongst the junior golfers,” said Sabbatini.
“Golf in Slovakia is not a big sport compared to ice hockey and so many different other sports that are bigger sports. So we looked at it as a way to try and create some interest.”
Immelman, who teamed up with Sabbatini to win the 2003 World Cup for South Africa at Kiawah Island, was delighted for his old friend.
“I’m really happy for him,” he said in a text to bunkered.co.uk. “He’s been a great player for a very long time. I’m never surprised when he plays well.”
Ranked 204th in the world at the start of play in Tokyo, Sabbatini’s silver medal has propelled him to 111th – just inside the top-10 South Africans but comfortably the top Slovakian. His closest challenger is Petr Valasek, who is just outside the world’s top-800.