Top golfers to watch in Rio
Henrik Stenson enters Rio as the highest ranked golfer in the Official World Golf Rankings. He earned a dramatic victory in the 2016 Open Championship, playing what many have called the greatest final round in a major championship. With his first major in the rearview, Stenson looks to keep rolling with a gold medal in Rio. He’s spoken enthusiastically about playing in the Olympics and brings some star power to the men’s field.
The best female golfer in the world enters the Rio Games having already won four tournaments in 2016. At just 19 years old, her 14 LPGA Tour wins may soon surpass her age. In 2015, Ko became the youngest woman or man to earn the world’s No. 1 ranking. She has said she plans to retire at age 30 so you’ll want to see her while she’s still at it. A trail blazer in the sport, it would be no surprise to see Ko win the first women’s golf medal in 116 years.
After the withdrawals of several of the world’s best golfers, Watson became the top-ranked golfer in the field when qualification closed. The two-time Masters winner is one of the favorites to bring home the gold medal, though he’ll have to compete with the aforementioned Stenson and Team USA compatriot Rickie Fowler. He’s won the Hero World Challenge and the Northern Trust Open this season, along with three top 10 finishes.
The top-ranked American heading into the tournament, Lexi Thompson is one of three women from the U.S. in the field. She won the 2016 LPGA Thailand Open just two weeks after her 21st birthday. Thompson is a seven-time winner on the LPGA Tour, including a major championships win at the 2014 ANA Inspiration.
Sergio Garcia has finished in the top 5 in every major championship on the PGA Tour, yet he still has never won a major. While he’s struggled to get a major win, Garcia has the opportunity to win something none of his peers have: a gold medal. He has won one tournament this year, the Byron Nelson, and has four top 10 finishes. Garcia will enter Rio as the top ranked Spaniard in the field and is No. 6 overall in the Olympic golf rankings.