The men’s golf competition at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games begins in less than two weeks on July 29 and runs for four days at the Kasumigaseki Country Club, Saitama.
It is quite a line-up as in the field of 60 players, we have six of the world’s top 10, 20 of the top 50 and 29 of the top 100.
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We will see three first-time Olympic medallists in the competition as none of the three podium winners from 2016 — Justin Rose (Great Britain), Henrik Stenson (Sweden) and Matt Kuchar (USA) — are in the field.
Such a significant event on the golfing calendar has been fighting for space in the golfing media with The Open at Royal St George’s, qualification for the Ryder Cup, FedEx Cup qualification. the Race to Dubai, global travel concerns about COVID-19 and so much more — not so much about golf at the Olympics.
This is a shame and it deserves more.
In 2016 at Rio, the build-up was all about golfers not attending due to the Zika virus in Brazil: Jason Day, Branden Grace, Dustin Johnson, Shane Lowry, Rory McIlroy, Mark Leishman, Charl Schwartzel, Angelo Que, Vijay Singh, Jordan Spieth and Graeme McDowell all skipped the event.
This always reminds me about the World Cup of Golf. It was founded in 1953 as the Canada Cup, founded by Canadian Industrialist John Jay Hopkins. It changed its name in 1967 to the World Cup.
Past champions of the team event include: Kel Nagle and Peter Thomson (Aus), Ben Hogan and Sam Snead (USA), Arnold Palmer and Sam Snead (USA), Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer (USA), Harold Henning and Gary Player (RSA), Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino (USA), Johnny Miller and Jack Nicklaus (USA), Seve Ballesteros and Antonio Garrido (Spain), Fred Couples and David Love III (USA), Mark O’Meara and Tiger Woods (USA), Ernie Els and Retief Goosen (RSA), Colin Montgomerie and Marc Warren (Scotland) to reel off a few.
It is a historical ‘Who’s Who’ of the world of golf. Sadly, the event did not happen every year and was last played in 2018 in Melbourne with Belgium being the winners through Thomas Detry and Thomas Pieters.
In most sports, either the Olympics or the World Cup seems to be the pinnacle of the game, but not in golf. The pinnacle of the golfing calendar is the four majors, the Ryder Cup, the FedEx Cup, the Race to Dubai and the world rankings. Let’s hope that the golfing authorities can fit both the Olympic competition and the World Cup into future calendars.
What tournament director or title sponsor would not dream of having such a field of golfers in their tournament? The Olympics this month boasts such names as Jon Rahm of Spain, Americans Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele and Bryson DeChambeau, Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry, home hope Hideki Matsuyama, Team GB’s Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood, France’s Victor Perez and Belgium’s Thomas Detry and Thomas Pieters.
And that is only some of the big boys looking for gold. Let’s all celebrate golf being back in the Olympics for only the second time since 1904.
As it inches closer, Gulf News will be catching up with Spanish golfer and Dubai resident Adri Arnaus this week as he makes his final preparations in the UAE before heading to Tokyo, where he will representing Spain alongside US Open champion Jon Rahm.