Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia - yes, Slovakia! - shoots Olympics 18-hole scoring record 61

Rory Sabbatini is representing Slovakia, a nation with only 9,000 registered golfers and 26 golf courses.

Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia - yes, Slovakia! - shoots Olympics 18-hole scoring record 61

Rory Sabbatini celebrated with a fist pump on his birdie putt at 18 for an Olympics 18-hole scoring record of 61 at least three feet before it dropped.

His wife and caddie this week, Martina Stofanikova, was equally elated, lifting her arms to the sky and screaming, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

What a round it was for the 45-year-old Sabbatini, the oldest competitor in the 60-man field, who was born in South Africa and represented Slovakia, the home country of his wife and stepson, in the Tokyo Summer Games.

Sabbatini, a six-time winner on the PGA Tour but without a triumph since the 2010 Honda Classic unless you count the 2019 Slovak Open, attained Slovakia citizenship via marriage to Stofanikova. Her cousin, Rastislav Antal, the current President of the Slovak Golf Association, suggested to Sabbatini that he could take advantage of a bylaw to Rule 41 of the Olympic Charter that allows athletes of dual citizenship to represent the nation of their choice.

As a result, Sabbatini wore a golf shirt with Slovakia, a nation with only 9,000 registered golfers and 26 courses, printed in large red lettering on the back of his shirt.

OLYMPICS: Leaderboard | Photo gallery

Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia lines up a putt on the 16th hole during the final round of the men’s golf event at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, in Kawagoe, Japan. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Sabbatini paired with Trevor Immelman to win the 2003 World Cup for South Africa and his shift in loyalty has been ridiculed on social media channels, most notably by the Shotgun Start Podcast, who dubbed him “the boy from Bratislava.” Sabbatini shrugged off any criticism and explained representing Slovakia as his way of doing his part to grow the game.

“The whole principle about me getting my Slovak citizenship and representing Slovakia is to try and generate interest among the junior golfers and to create future generations of Slovak golfers,” he explained earlier this week.

Sabbatini arrived early in Japan and stayed in the Olympic Village, and tabbed the experience “fabulous.”

“It’s been a great environment to be around all the Slovak athletes and the Olympic team and they have been very hospitable and welcoming and we have had a lot of fun in the team room,” he said on Friday. “Hopefully I’ll give them something to cheer about this weekend and inspire a few new golfers and maybe some desire to be future Olympians in the young girls and boys in Slovakia.”

According to Golf.com, after the Games, Sabbatini is flying to Slovakia, where he is scheduled to visit Trnaya Golf Club, about a 30-minute drive north of the capital city of Bratislava.

He’ll be able to recount arguably the round of his career. Trailing by seven strokes to start the final round, he made 10 birdies and an eagle to offset two bogeys in shooting 10-under 61 at the East Course at Kasumigaseki Country Club, in Saitama, Japan, about 35 miles northwest of downtown Tokyo. Sabbatini is the clubhouse leader at 17-under 267.

Source : Golf Week More   

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Michael Thorbjornsen finishes off a marathon week with Western Amateur title

Stanford sophomore Michael Thorbjornsen won the Western Amateur in his debut at the grueling amateur event.

Michael Thorbjornsen finishes off a marathon week with Western Amateur title

Michael Thorbjornsen started Western Amateur week with a Glen View Golf Club course record – his 8-under 62 went into history books that date back 124 years. He ended it with one of golf’s most prestigious amateur trophies. The 19-year-old, who is about to embark on his sophomore season at Stanford, took down a stout list of opponents in four rounds of match play over the past two days to become the Western Amateur champion.

Thorbjornsen, from Wellesley, Massachusetts, made his run from the top of the bracket after rounds of 68-62-70-67 left him at 13 under and one ahead of David Ford and Pierceson Coody (the defending champion) as medalist.

The final three days of the six-day Western Amateur feature double rounds. As soon as Thorbjornsen got to the bracket, he faced recent Southern Amateur champion Maxwell Moldovan, a sophomore at Ohio State. Thorbjornsen downed him, 2 and 1, before facing two-time Western Amateur semifinalist Ricky Castillo in the quarterfinals.

Scores: Western Amateur

Despite Castillo’s match-play chops – he went undefeated at the Walker Cup in May – Thorbjornsen defeated him on the final hole, 2 up.

On Saturday morning, Thorbjornsen defeated North Carolina’s Austin Greaser to reach the final match, where he met incoming Vanderbilt freshman Gordon Sargent.

Thorbjornsen had the advantage for much of the match, but Sargent birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to cut the deficit. Thorbjornsen then won three holes in a row from Nos. 11-13 to set the stage for a 4-and-3 victory.

“I could kind of feel the momentum switch,” Thorbjornsen said of the final. “But I had to remind myself that I was still leading. That birdie on 11 switched the momentum back in my favor.”

This week marked Thorbjornsen’s debut in the Western Amateur. He won the 2018 U.S. Junior and competed in the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, making the cut.

Thorbjornsen is the first solo Western Am medalist to win the title since Norman Xiong in 2017 at Skokie Country Club in Glencoe, Illinois.

Sargent, meanwhile, is coming off a quarterfinal run at last week’s U.S. Junior. Both men earn exemptions into the 2022 Evans Scholars Invitational on the Korn Ferry Tour.

“There’s nothing negative I will take away from this week,” Sargent said. “So many positives. This is the best amateur field and to be able to compete against these players gives me a lot of confidence.”

Already this summer, Thorbjornsen has finished 11th at both the Sunnehanna Amateur and the Northeast Amateur. He also won the Massachusetts Amateur earlier in July by an overwhelming 8-and-6 margin in a final match against 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Matt Parziale.

Thorbjornsen will compete at the U.S. Amateur at Oakmont in two weeks.

Source : Golf Week More   

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