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Arizona golf alum Rory Sabbatini wins silver medal at Olympic Games

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Marisa Favero | The Daily Wildcat The Arizona men's golf team participated in the 2018 Intercollegiate Tournament at Sewailo golf course on Jan. 29 and Jan. 30 against teams from across the west coast.

The silver medal in men’s golf at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is going home with former Wildcat Rory Sabbatini, finishing with a final score of -17 at Kasumigaseki Country Club. This was the first Olympic medal for Sabbatini and third overall at the Olympics for his home country of Slovakia. Sabbatini also was the oldest Olympian in the men’s golf competition. 

Sabbatini got off to a great start in round one, finishing tied No. 11 with a score of -6, five shots behind the leader American Xander Schauffele. Sabbatini continued to hang with the field and once again was tied No. 11 with a score of -6 at the end of day two. 

Halfway through the competition is usually when golfers make their move, but Sabbatini did not make up much ground. He shot 70 (-1), which was his worst round of the Olympics and finished day three tied No. 17 with a score of -7. 

Looking as if it was over Sabbatini headed into the final round of play with nobody expecting him to medal. Then, the unthinkable happened. In his final round at the Olympics, Sabbatini shot 61 (-10) to propel him into a tie for first place with Schauffele with a final score of -17. 

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“It was a little bit more pressure, especially coming down the stretch at the end there,” Sabbatini told NBC Golf. “At the same time, it spurs you on to get that final push at the end.”

After his record-setting finish, he went and hugged his wife and caddy, Martina. Everyone who watched this final round of golf was stunned, including the announcers calling the tournament. 

“That was one hell of a round,” NBC Golf said during the broadcast. “10 birdies, an eagle and two bogeys. [Sabbatini] betters the [all-time] Olympic 18-hole scoring mark by two shots.”

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Schauffele led after every round and won the gold for Team USA with a final score of -18. After seven golfers tied for third, the fight for the bronze medal went to a playoff which was ultimately won by Taiwan’s Pan Cheng Tsung by a final score of -15. After his historic win, Sabbatini was thrilled to win a medal for his home country.

“I don’t know if you can really quantify how it feels,” Sabbatini told NBC Golf. “It is a completely different feeling. It is different when you are representing [your country] and not just yourself.” 

By winning the silver medal Sabbatini hopes that it will help elevate the sport of golf in his home country of Slovakia. 

“To be here and medal is something that I am hoping will help to get the fires burning to develop golf in Slovakia,” Sabbatini told NBC Golf. “We noticed before we came here all the excitement from the junior golfers and hopefully this can add the fuel to the fire for them.”


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Updated September 18, 2021