Sabbatini to Star in Vodacom Players Championship

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Rory Sabbatini, one of South Africa's young golf stars, will join a formidable line-up competing in the Vodacom Players Championship at the Royal Cape Golf Club Dec. 6-9.
 
The 25-year-old, who hails from Durban, will make his professional debut on the Sunshine Tour after playing competitively on the U.S. PGA Tour for the last three years.
 
Born into a keen golfing family, Sabbatini took up the game at the age of 4. After a successful junior career, he received a college scholarship to the University of Arizona in the mid-'90s and in 1998, took up permanent residence in Arizona.
 
In 1998, he qualified for the U.S. PGA Tour through the Qualifying School. His first professional victory followed in his second year when he won the Air Canada Championship, taking home $1.26 million in prize money for 2000.
 
Sabbatini topped the million-dollar mark in earnings again this year, beginning the season with a superb runner-up finish in the opening tournament of the year, the Mercedes Championships in Hawaii.
 
in the recent Invensys Classic, he posting rounds of 63 and 64, earned $396,000 and tied for second with a 29-under-par total for the five-round tournament.
 
Although he finished 52nd on the final U.S. PGA Tour money list, 2001 has been an up-and-down year for Sabbatini, who missed 10 cuts in 23 outings. He posted three top-10 finishes, including a top-5 finish in the Western Open, which secured him automatic exemption into his first-ever British Open at Royal Lytham St Annes.
 
Considered one of the longest hitters on the U.S. tour, Sabbatini ranks 11th in the driving distance statistics in 2001, and his average length off the tee this year has increased to 289 yards.