South African-born Rory Sabbatini becomes a citizen of Slovakia, eyes playing in 2020 Olympics


Rory Sabbatini was born in South Africa and represented the country in the World Cup five times—winning it with partner Trevor Immelman in 2003—as well as on the International team at the Presidents Cup in 2007. But in 2019, his official home on the PGA Tour will be listed as Slovakia after the 42-year-old became an official citizen of the European country earlier this month.

Sabbatini, a six-time winner on tour during his 21-year career, is married to Martina Stofanikova, his second wife, who is from Slovakia.

By taking Slovak citizenship, Sabbatini could represent the country in competitions, including the 2020 Olympics. According to an AP report, the Slovak Golf Association is sending proof of Sabbatini’s citizenship to the International Golf Federation to make the process official.

Qualifying for the Olympics is based off the World Ranking. No more than two players from any country can play in the Olympics (four if they are among the top 10) until the field is filled at 60 players. The current No. 60 player in the Olympic ranking is Daan Huizing of the Netherlands, who is No. 340 in the World Ranking. Sabbatini is ranked 203rd, which would qualify him for Slovakia to play in Tokyo. (He would be the 11th-ranking golfer from South Africa.)

Rory Sabbatini

Beyond playing in the Olympics, Sabbatini believes he can help grow the game in his new home.

“I believe that I will be successful for Slovak golf and will be a source of inspiration for Slovak youth,” Sabbatini said at the Consulate General of the Slovak Republic in New York.

Sabbatini instantly becomes the first Slovak to play on the PGA Tour. He is currently 143rd on the FedEx Cup points list and is likely to play his first PGA Tour event for his new country at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

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