South Africa-born Rory Sabbatini targets Ryder Cup spot

Rory Sabbatini

Rory Sabbatini could become the first golfer to play against the USA in both the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup, after admitting he’d love to be part of Padraig Harrington’s European team for next year’s match at Whistling Straits.

Sabbatini, 43, was born in Durban, South Africa, and, after representing the 'Rainbow Nation' as an amateur, continued to do so after turning professional in 1998.

In 2007, as a South African, he qualified to play for the International team in the 2007 Presidents Cup, winning just a half-point from four matches as the USA ran out 19½-14½ winners.

However, earlier this year, he changed his citizenship from South Africa to Slovakia, the home country of his wife and stepson. 

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Initially, it was believed that he had done so with a view to qualifying for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, a claim the six-time PGA Tour winner subsequently denied.

However, as a citizen of a European country, Sabbatini is eligible to play in the Ryder Cup – and, during last week’s Italian Open, he admitted that’s on his radar.

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Revealing he has had discussions with Harrington about the possibility, he said: “Obviously there's potential and I have a chance, but I'd say between now and then, I've got a lot of good golf that needs to be played.

“I've been playing nicely. My game is finally turning around. I'm back to full strength and full health. I'm starting to get comfortable out on the golf course again, so I'm giving myself opportunities.”

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Should he qualify for the team, Sabbatini would become the first Slovakian national to play in the Ryder Cup. Since Continental Europeans were made eligible for the match in 1979, players from seven different countries on the continent have taken part in the Ryder Cup: Spain, Denmark, Belgium, France, Sweden, Germany and Italy.

The 2020 Ryder Cup takes place at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin from September 25-27.

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