Here is a quick look at the Olympic Games’ golf competition in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
COURSE: Olympics Golf Course, 7,128 yards, par 71. Built on a former sand quarry along saltwater marshes and lagoons, designer Gil Hanse and consultant Amy Alcott faced the challenge of creating an Olympic test that the public can play once the Games are concluded. With just a thin barrier of dunes protecting the course from the Atlantic Ocean, inspiration was drawn from the classic Sandbelt courses of Australia. Greens are slanted, with several hole locations demanding precise tee shots to set up an unobstructed approach. Officials have decided to forego rough for the tournament, leaving wide fairways with the hope that wind will be a primary defense. If not, many of the world’s best will be encouraged to go flag hunting.
FIELD WATCH: The Open Championship winner, Henrik Stenson, and Masters winner Danny Willett, give golf’s return to the Olympic program two of the four reigning major winners. In all, the event will feature six of the top 12 men in the Official World Golf Ranking. … The field was limited to just 60 players, with qualification based on world rankings and caps on the number of entrants from any one nation. Countries were limited to two entrants, with up to two more if additional players were among the top 15 in the ranking. … The United States has the maximum of four entrants – Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed and Matt Kuchar. … Justin Rose will join Willett to comprise Great Britain’s twosome; Spain is represented by Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello. … Adilson da Silva, who plays mostly on the Asian and Sunshine tours, is host Brazil’s lone entrant.
LAST TIME: Canada’s George Lyon captured the 1904 gold medal in St. Louis with a 3&2 upset of reigning U.S. and Western Amateur champion Chandler Egan, capping five straight days of 36-hole match play at Glen Echo Golf Club. Lyon was one of just three Canadians to enter the competition and the only one to survive 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying. Egan had won the U.S. Amateur the previous week, defeating Walter Travis in that final. But if Egan had a classic swing, Lyon was a natural sportsman. He won the Canadian Amateur eight times, was second at the U.S. Amateur and was one of his country’s top cricket batsmen. The final was played in rainy conditions, and Lyon’s conditioning proved a key. At the awards dinner, Lyon further showed his fitness by walking the length of the dining room on his hands.
STORYLINES: After issues ranging from construction delays to several top players pulling out over health fears and scheduling concerns, golf finally marks its return to the Olympic program after a 112-year absence. No matter who wins, he’ll earn a line in the sport’s book of firsts. … Since missing the cut at THE PLAYERS, Stenson has two wins and three other top-15 finishes in six starts worldwide. That includes his stellar performance at Royal Troon, where his closing 63 stands as one of the best final rounds ever in a major. … Before last week’s missed cut at Baltusrol, Garcia hadn’t finished outside the top five in any start worldwide since May. … With the caps put in place for participants from any one nation, just 18 of the 60 entrants are PGA TOUR members.
SHORT CHIPS: The Olympic women’s tournament will begin three days after the men’s conclusion, with all of the LPGA’s top eligible players committed to compete for a gold medal. World No. 1 Lydia Ko, No. 2 Brooke Henderson and No. 3 Lexi Thompson head that lineup. … Golf also is guaranteed a place in the 2020 Olympics, when the Games will be held in Tokyo. However, the International Olympic Committee will reassess the sport’s presence after Rio and vote whether to keep the sport on the program for 2024. … The 2020 event will be played at Kasumigaseki Country Club, a frequent host of the Japan Open and the Asian Amateur.
TELEVISION: Thursday-Saturday, 3:30 a.m.-noon PT (Golf Channel). Sunday, noon, PT (GC).