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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.


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.

author headshot

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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