Ten Things To Know As Golf Returns To Olympics After 112-Year Absence

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The Summer Olympics are underway in Rio de Janeiro, where medals will be awarded in 42 disciplines over the next three weeks. Of those sports, two are new to the schedule for 2016: rugby sevens and golf.

Golf was previously a part of the Olympics in 1900 and 1904, but it’s been out of the mix for more than a century. In 1904, George Lyon claimed the gold for Canada at the St. Louis Games after five straight days of 36-hole match play competition.

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 An overhead view of the Olympic golf course outside Rio de Janeiro. (Photo credit: Rio2016.com)

Now 112 years later, here are 10 of the most important things to know as golf makes its Olympic return in Brazil:

1 – Two gold medals will be awarded, in the men’s and women’s individual competitions. Both the men and women will play a 72-hole individual stroke play format, so it’s not much different than the week-to-week grind of the PGA and LPGA tours. Matt Kuchar is one of four U.S. players in the men’s field, but just one week out of Rio even he didn’t know what the format was, mistakenly believing there was a two-man team competition.

2 – Unlike a regular professional tour event, the Olympic field is limited to 60 players in both the men’s and women’s tournaments. The U.S. has four players in the men’s competition because that’s the maximum number of qualifiers per country provided they’re in the top-15 of the world rankings. Outside the top 15, a maximum of two players per country could qualify.

3 – The men’s tournament is held Aug. 11-14, with the women’s event set for the following week Aug. 18-21. The Golf Channel will broadcast the men’s tournament from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET from Thursday through Saturday and on Sunday from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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 The Olympic course will be open to the public following the Games. (Photo credit: Rio2016.com)

4 – The Olympic course was built specifically for the Summer Games, constructed on a former sand quarundefinedry along saltwater marshes. It was designed by Gil Hanse, who was selected from a group of eight architects to build the 18-hole layout at the Marapendi Natural Reserve. The venue, which has the feel of some of Australia’s classic Sandbelt courses, was landscaped as part of an environmental recovery project and will be open to the public after the Olympic Games. It’s also home to the world’s largest rodent — the capybara — as well as a species of ground-nesting owl, caimans, boa constrictors, monkeys and three-toed sloths.

5 – The top four men in the world rankings aren’t in the field. Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy all pulled out over concerns about the mosquito-born Zika virus, poor security or a full competition schedule. In all, 21 eligible male golfers dropped out, with other top names including Adam Scott, Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen, Hideki Matsuyama and Charl Schwartzel. Only six eligible players on the women’s side withdrew, with Lee-Anne Pace the highest seed (39).

6 – Henrik Stenson of Sweden is the top player in the men’s field, sitting fifth in the world ranking after his victory at the British Open. Bubba Watson (6) is next, followed by American teammate Rickie Fowler (7) and No. 9 Danny Willett of Britain, this year’s Masters champion. On the women’s side, Lydia Ko of New Zealand is the top contender, followed by Brooke Henderson of Canada, Inbee Park of South Korea, and Lexi Thompson of the U.S. The host nation’s lone representative is Adilson da Silva, a professional who mostly plays on the second-tier Asian and Sunshine tours. In all, 18 of the 60 men’s players are members of the PGA Tour.

7 – The men’s competition features 34 nations, from Argentina to Venezuela. Of those 23 have two competitors, while 10 countries have one Olympic participant. (The U.S. leads the way with four: Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed and Matt Kuchar) The women’s tournament also has players from 34 nations. South Korea has the best representation, with four players, followed by the U.S. with three. Twenty-three countries have two female Olympians.

8 – The American team may have the most players, but the U.S. isn’t the favorite to strike gold in Brazil. The favorite coming in is Stenson, who has 9-2 odds of following up his win at the season’s final major championship with Olympic glory. Sergio Garcia of Spain is the second pick at 7-1, according to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. Watson, Fowler, and England’s Justin Rose all have 12-1 odds of winning the men’s individual title.

9 – The Olympic course is a par-71 and will play at a length of 7,128 yards for the men and 6,245 yards for the women. The course concludes with a short par-3 17th hole (133 yards) and then a 571-yard par-5 18th hole. If there’s a tie among any of the top three positions (gold, silver or bronze), there will be a three-hole playoff to determine the medal winner.

10 – Golf was reintroduced to the Olympics because of its global expansion and popularity. It’s not back permanently, though, as the International Olympic Committee only voted to reinstate golf through the 2020 Games in Tokyo — at least for now. After Rio, the IOC will re-assess golf’s return and vote on whether to keep the sport as part of the Olympic program for 2024 and beyond.

Source: www.forbes.com

2017-09-01T12:16:13+00:00