Top golf stories to watch in Rio
Golf returns to the Olympic Games
Golfers will take to the links for Olympic play for the first time in 112 years for the men and 116 years for the women. The men’s and women’s tournament feature some of the game’s best athletes while also giving an opportunity to some of the sport’s lesser known players. The setting could not be better as the course will feature some of Rio’s breathtaking landscape and wildlife (be on the lookout for a species of owls that have inhabited the course). The brand new course was designed specifically for the 2016 Games and will live on after the Olympics in hopes of growing the sport in South America.
Withdrawals aside, men’s tournament features big names
While the men’s side may be missing some of the world’s best players, there will still be plenty of top-tier talent in the field. 2106 Open Championship-winner Henrik Stenson headlines the field, along with the likes of Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia. While Garcia and Fowler are yet to win a major, an Olympic gold medal will go a long way towards easing that pain.
Women’s field full of talent
Unlike the men’s side, the women’s field will see all five of the top ranked players in the world play in the Olympics. Lydia Ko, Inbee Park and Lexi Thompson highlight the big names for the women. Joining Thompson for the U.S. will be Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller. South Korea is the only nation to earn all four possible qualifications and will be sending a formidable lineup to Rio.
Will Olympic golf survive past 2020?
Golf’s future in the Olympics is uncertain after some of the top names in the sport withdrew. The sport is already guaranteed a spot in the Tokyo Olympics, but its status will be reevaluated after 2020. Dramatic tournaments on the men’s and women’s side will go a long way towards improving the game’s standing with the IOC.
Can one of golf’s unknowns vault into the spotlight?
With such a varied field, some of the game’s relative unknowns have the opportunity to earn the spotlight with a big performance in Rio. The Olympics present an opportunity for one of the lesser known golfers to earn the spotlight on the world’s biggest stage. With golfers ranking as far down as the 500s for the women and 300s for the men, the Olympics could serve as a launching pad for the sport’s next big star.