Next summer in Brazil, golf will rejoin the Summer Olympic Games for the first time in 112 years, predicating, among other things, a shift of the start date of the PGA Tournament.
The International competition will feature the top 60 men and top 60 women in the world, although that status is a bit dubious now that it has been revealed that no country can have more than four competitors in either event.
The men’s field will be set based on the world rankings as of July 11, 2016. The top 15 players in the world will all qualify, but only four golfers per country maximum will make that cut. The remaining spots will go to countries who don’t already have two golfers qualified.
In addition, the International Golf Federation (IGF) has guaranteed that the host country of Brazil, and at least one country from every geographical region (Africa, The Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania) will have at least one qualifier.
The repercussions of such rules can be seen immediately just by looking at the top 15 of the current world rankings, which features seven Americans.
If the Olympic drawing was held today, Jim Furyk, ranked No. 9 in the world, No. 10 Zach Johnson, the reigning Open Championship winner, and No. 13 Patrick Reed would all not play in the Olympics.
Of course, not having a restriction on the number of players per country would be just as bad. Without some sort of restriction, the field of 60 would include 26 Americans, nearly half of the field, and not much of a convincing argument of an international field.
As the rankings stand on November 29, 2015, five countries would be mainly affected by the hard cap – the US, the UK, Australia, Japan, and Spain, all of whom have more than four golfers ranked in the top 60.
The edict would keep the above US players, as well as the likes of England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick, five-time Major winner Phil Mickelson, 2014 FedExCup winner Billy Horschel, and former No. 1 Lee Westwood out of the competition.
Even more glaring, it would include Brazil’s Adilson da Silva, the “top-ranked” golfer from the home country, currently checking in at No. 315.
da Silva’s best performance on the European Tour came in 2012 when he finished 10th at the Singapore Open. The 250+ golfers who could participate for a chance at gold, silver, or bronze around their necks, are likely less than impressed by that performance.
The host golfer debate will be less of an issue in 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Games.