Rory Sabbatini, fresh off a silver-medal showing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, is trying to secure a berth in the US PGA playoffs this week at the Wyndham Championship.
The 45-year-old South African-born standout is among those trying to reach the top 125 in the season points race to reach the FedEx Cup playoffs starting next week.
Sabbatini, who fired a stunning 61 in the final round of the Olympics to reach the podium, ranks 141st but has the chance to move up and qualify for next week’s event, the Northern Trust in suburban New York.
“This is a huge week. I’ve got a big job to do,” Sabbatini said. “I’m not exactly sure what position I need to finish, but I’m pretty sure it’s a minimum of a top-10 finishing this weekend to get into the playoffs.
“I know I’ve got a tough job. It’s a good field, a lot of good players, so I’ve just got to keep my head down and keep trying to move forward and hopefully make it to next week.”
Reigning Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama and British Olympian Tommy Fleetwood are among those who will test Sabbatini at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina.
World No 114 Sabbatini, whose last PGA win came at the 2011 Honda Classic, has managed three top-10 showings in eight prior starts at the event, but this year has had only one top-10 result, at Torrey Pines in January, and has missed the cut in six of his past eight PGA starts.
“It has been a very frustrating year,” he said. “I’ve been on the cusp of getting my game cleaned up and going in the direction I wanted to go. It has been kind of a love-hate relationship with my golf game this year.
“I feel like I kind of got everything kind of firing in the right direction here and I’ve just got to kind of let it happen.”
Americans Matt Kuchar and Bo Hoag are 124th and 125th on the points list, with India’s Anirban Lahiri, Taiwan’s CT Pan and Australian Adam Scott also among the last eight inside the playoff cut entering the week.
Among those with Sabbatini trying to leap into the lineup this week are Colombian Camilo Villegas, American Rickie Fowler, Canada’s Roger Sloan, Australian Cameron Percy and England’s Justin Rose.
Sabbatini, a 2007 Masters runner-up, said he made the citizenship switch to his wife’s homeland in 2018 to help grow the sport in Slovakia and figures his medal was a major step to that goal.
“It has paid off in a huge way,” he said. “Just representing them so that we could entice and inspire junior golfers. Obviously qualifying for the Olympics was a huge benefit, and then medalling in it was above and beyond.
“The outpouring of support last week when we were back in Slovakia, just the excitement, it’s what we hoped for.
“It was absolutely overwhelming. People stopping us in the street everywhere, people pulling their car over on the side of the road to stop to congratulate us. It was incredible. You could really feel the support, the appreciation and just all the emotion from the people.”
© Agence France-Presse