Rory Sabbatini, the South-African born PGA Tour pro, will now play under the flag of Slovakia after he became an official citizen of the Eastern European nation last week, according to an Associated Press report.
Sabbatini, who is ranked No. 203 in the world, is fully exempt on the PGA Tour in 2019 thanks to a top-100 finish in the FedEx Cup. With the 2020 Tokoyo Olympics closing in, Sabbatini — whose wife, Martina Stofanikova, is a Slovak — hopes to play in the Games under the Slovak flag.
“I believe that I will be successful for Slovak golf and will be a source of inspiration for Slovak youth,” Sabbatini said last Wednesday at the Consulate General of the Slovak Republic in New York.
— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) December 31, 2018
“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,” vice president of the Slovak Golf Association Rastislav Antal said.
— Nosferatu (@VC606) December 18, 2018
The Olympic golf format takes no more than two players from each country – four if they are among the top 15 in the Official World Golf Ranking — until the field size is at 60. As of the end of 2018, Daan Huizing of the Netherlands is the last man in the field ranked at 340th in the world.
Sabbatini would be the highest-ranking Slovak and therefore earn himself a spot in the field were the event to take place today. The top-ranked South Africans in the world, Louis Oosthuizen (25) and Shaun Norris (71), would be the representatives of Sabbatini’s homeland in the same hypothetical situation.