Sabbatini brings a timely silver lining lift to his flagging Tour season

Fatiha Betscher
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Sabbatini brings a timely silver lining lift to his flagging Tour season

Rory Sabbatini (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

A month ago, Rory Sabbatini was lamenting four missed cuts in succession to be languishing outside the leading 125 on the PGA Tour money list. That all changed 12 days ago when the 45-year-old now Slovakian citizen posted a sizzling final round 61 to sensationally secure the silver medal at the Japan Olympics.

Now Sabbatini has continued his Olympic Games form grabbing six birdies, in more heatwave conditions like he experienced in Japan, in a six-under par 64 to be sharing the lead at 10-under par midway through the second round of the ‘regular’ PGA Tour season-ending Wyndham Championship.

Arriving at the Sedgefield Country Club lying in 141st place on the Tour’s money list and without a Tour win in over a decade, Sabbatini’s efforts of the two days is his best two-round start on the PGA Tour since 2003.

“Ironically enough, I think I’ve been, over the last, I don’t know, six weeks to two months, kind of trending in the right direction with my golf game,” he said.

“But golf, it’s weird how it doesn’t add up sometimes even though you’re doing the right things. I think the final round in Tokyo kind of maybe was the final key. I think I’ve always put too much pressure on myself on the golf course, been too hard on myself on the golf course, expected too much of myself and I think maybe there I just kind of took a step back and relaxed and somehow it just seems to have clicked.”

Clicked it has indeed with Sabbatini dropping just one shot in the two days and now being projected to jump 87 places to 54th on the money list.

Following the Olympics, Sabbatini, who grew up in South Africa but earned dual citizenship a few years ago after getting married, fulfilled his promise by hosting a couple of youth clinics in Slovakia and hosting a charity day. He said the response there has been “everything we could have hoped for and more”.

“There’s maybe only 9,000 registered golfers in Slovakia, so in the past 10 days to two weeks, we’ve definitely seen an uptake in interest and people that are now wanting to go start playing the game and getting their kids involved in the game,” he said.

“So that was the hope – to create the interest and desire and grow the game there.”

His appearance in the media centre post his great second round prompted the question if he would bring his Olympic silver medal to the Wyndham Championship.

“It made a few appearances to the course, but it’s no longer here. It’s in a safe place.”

Just a shot back of the early leading trio was Justin Rose, winner of the gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

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