Rio Olympics 2016, Golf: Previewing the men's event
The attention will shift to the Olympic Golf Course in Rio as Golf tees off at the Olympics after a 112 year long wait. The fact that the sport makes a return after a century is making all the headlines, with good merit.
112 years is an incredibly long time. In that span of time, the entire landscape of the sport has changed, legends have been created, playing styles have evolved and the sport is played at a much larger scale across the globe now.
So what can we expect going into golf at Rio?
The golf course: The Par 71 Olympic Golf Course provides the setting for the sport's return. Specially built for Rio 2016, the 18-hole facility was landscaped as part of an environmental recovery project, and will be open to the public after the event.
Recently, a capybara, the largest rodent in the world, capable of growing up to a whopping 150 pounds was spotted at the Olympic Golf Course. This will be one of the sights of the tournament, apart from other wildlife that might be spotted during the 8 days.
The format: Both the men’s and women’s event will be played as a 72-hole individual stroke play tournament in accordance with the official rules of golf. These rules are jointly administered by the R&A (The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews) and the USGA (United States Golf Association).
The field: The top-15 world-ranked players are eligible for the Olympics, with a limit of four players from a given country. Beyond the top-15, players will be eligible based on the world rankings, with a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top-15.
While a number of golfers pulled out citing fears over the ‘Zika’ virus, there is still a very strong field with
While Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy and Dustin Johnson won’t be seen in action, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson, Padraig Harrington and a host of others will battle it out.
What’s in it for India?
World #69 Anirban Lahiri and #229 SSP Chaurasia have qualified for the Olympics and offer a ray of hope for India to secure a medal in the sport.
Anirban Lahiri: The current torchbearer of Indian Golf, Anirban, will be hoping to make a statement as the world watches. He has enjoyed a couple of great seasons and is a household name across the world now. On the back of his impressive 2014 and 2015, he earned a PGA Tour card where he is seen in action now.
His career highlights include the highest finish by an Indian at a Major with his 5th place finish at the PGA Championship in 2015. He also has 2 wins on the European Tour and 7 on the Asian Tour.
SSP Chaurasia: The Kolkata lad laid to rest the theory that golf is a sport meant for the elite with his remarkable story. From working at a golf course to winning the 2015 Hero Indian Open, he has done it all.
While he has not reached the heights that Anirban has scaled, he is a very skilful golfer with 3 European and 4 Asian Tour wins.
Predictions: Henrik Stenson has to be the favourite going into the Olympics after an impressive 2016. He will face tough competition from the likes of Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson for the gold.
USA seems slated for a medal with Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed and Matt Kuchar all in good form going into the event. Along with them, the United Kingdom also stand a good chance with Danny Willett and Justin Rose spearheading their challenge.
Spain’s Sergio Garcia, South Africa’s Brandon Stone, Republic of Ireland’s Padraig Harrington will all look to push for a medal as well.
There’s a fascinating mix of players at Rio. What adds to this is the fact that the course will be relatively new for all the players and how they deal with the conditions might be key in deciding who finishes on top.