Wives a hit as caddies at Tokyo Olympics

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Wife Michelle, who was on the bag last week, with CT Pan as he poses with his Olympic golf bronze at the Kasumigaseki Country Club on Sunday. Photo: IGF
Wife Michelle, who was on the bag last week, with CT Pan as he poses with his Olympic golf bronze at the Kasumigaseki Country Club on Sunday. Photo: IGF

The saying behind every successful man is a woman found expression again at the Olympic men’s golf competition at Tokyo 2020 on Sunday.

A case in point is the silver/bronze pairing of Rory Sabbatini, representing Slovakia, and C.T. Pan of Chinese Taipei. Both had their wives caddying for them last week at the Kasumigaseki Country Club. Michelle was on C.T.’s bag and Martina on Rory’s. While it might have taken some time, the combination certainly paid off on Sunday. Sabbatini set a new Olympic scoring record with a blistering round of 10-under 61, while CT tied the former record of 63.

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When they finished, Sabbatini was sitting alone in second place and Pan was tied for third with three others. But there was still a long wait ahead to see if they had done enough for medal. At least, they could do so in good company. 

“I had the privilege of playing with CT, so we kind of spurred each other one and he played some fantastic golf and down the end there suddenly I wasn’t so worried about Xander (Schaauffele) I was worried about CT,” said Sabbatini. “So I tried to keep my foot on the gas to keep ahead of him. I think that kind of set the stage for us to put a little bit of pressure on Xander without him knowing.”

 

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“I mean I’ve never been in a playoff with that many people, seven people for one spot, which is pretty crazy. And if you look at the field in the playoff, we got Rory McIlroy, Collin Morikawa, we got I don’t know two, three top-10 guys in the world. And we got me, 200th ranked, shooting plus 3 on Day One, didn’t know what to do on Thursday,” said Pan.

“I just told myself, just keep my head down, hit it one shot at a time and then I just reminded myself to keep joking with my wife, she’s great, she’s great caddie, but she definitely keeps the mood very light for me and it helps me to focus more. So I want to thank her for that. And the playoff, it’s crazy.”

Michelle was equally ecstatic and she stood proudly by the greenside to watch the medal presentation ceremony and the Chinese Taipei flag being hoisted alongside the U.S. and Slovakian flags. “This feeling is so unreal to me,” she said with tears of joy in her eyes. “After the first round, we were tied 57th and it was crazy. This morning when I woke up, I saw CT packing his uniform quietly and I just said okay, we still have a chance and let’s shoot 8 or 9 under to win a medal and we did it.

The Olympic bronze made up for Michelle not being able to witness CT Pan's Asian Games exploits in 2014 and also his first PGA Tour triumph in 2019. Photo: IGF
The Olympic bronze made up for Michelle not being able to witness CT Pan’s Asian Games exploits in 2014 and also his first PGA Tour triumph in 2019. Photo: IGF

“He was very, very calm. Golf is a game where you just keep playing until the last putt as we don’t know what will happen and you have to stay in the present and focus on each shot which was what we did until the last putt.”

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She was grateful Pan pushed for her to be his caddie, which meant spend time with the Chinese Taipei contingent in the Games Village. It also made up for her not being able to witness his Asian Games exploits in 2014 and also his first PGA Tour triumph in 2019.

“He won the gold medal at the Asian Games but I wasn’t there. When he won RBC Heritage, I wasn’t there too. So I’m glad I’m here and I’m all the way with him from the first tee shot till the last putt. I really appreciate C.T. working so hard to give me this chance to participate in this Olympics. It’s an honour. We’re happy to contribute one medal,” said Michelle.

Text: IGF/PGA Tour