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The 2016 Olympic Games:   WOMEN'S GOLF UPDATE AS OF ROLEX WORLD RANKINGS - August 1, 2016

Who is going to Rio?  It's been over 100 years since the game of golf was an Olympic event.  The International Golf Federation has determined how the qualifications will work.  It is based on the Rolex World Rankings.  see my article on www.womensgolf.com for explanation of the Olympic qualification system.

ROAD TO RIO

Women's Golf Olympic Competition -- August 17-21 (Wednesday through final round on Saturday)  

Everything you need to know! 

10 Questions... and Answers:

1. What determines what golfers compete in the Olympics? The International Olympic Committee (IOC) approves which sports are included in the Olympics.  Once approved, each sport has its own committee that determines the rules for its competition.  For golf, it’s the International Golf Federation (IGF).  It has been over 100 years since golf was included in the Olympic Games, so the IGF was writing on a clean slate – setting the rules that hopefully will establish golf as an Olympic sport for years to come.

2. How does a golfer qualify for the Olympics?  Qualification for women is based on a “performance-point” system managed and maintained by the famous Rolex watch company.  The Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings www.rolexrankings.com tracks and ranks the performance of female golfers in eight global tours over a two-year period.  The two-year period for determining the highest ranked women golfers ended at the conclusion of the U.S. Women’s Open on July 11, 2016.  Not all tours are considered equally competitive and the Rolex Rankings are adjusted for factors such as the strength of the field.  For more details, check out the frequently asked questions on http://www.rolexrankings.com/en/faq/. 

3. Why are there only 60 women golfers competing and how was the format determined? With many Olympic sports competing for time and TV coverage, both the format and the number of golfers was based on practical considerations.  The IOC determined that 60 female golfers (and 60 male golfers) would provide a practical schedule. The IGF determined that four days of competition – using the basic cumulative “stroke play” format – was a good place to start.  This is the format for most major golf tournaments and so it will be familiar to viewers. 

4. How are the top 60 golfers determined?   There were two main objectives:  The IGF wanted the top golfers to compete, but they also wanted as many countries as possible competing.  It’s important to remember that the Olympic competition is not a team competition.  It is about an outstanding athlete bringing a medal home to their country. 

The solution the IGF reached accomplishes both objectives.  It insures that the world’s top women golfers will be in the competition but also that as many countries as possible will also be competing.    Here’s how the 60 golfers are determined:  If a country has at least four players ranked in the “Top 15” of the Rolex Rankings, that country could have up to four players.  For players ranked 16 and higher, a country could only have two players.  And here’s how it turned out:  Korea has four players in the top 15.  And the U.S. has three players in the top 15.  That left room for 53 other players to bring the total field up to 60.  As it turns out – based on the Rolex Rankings and in the list below – there are women golfers from 32 other countries in addition to Korea and the United States. 

5.What happens if a player becomes ill or withdraws?  This question became especially important because of the Zika virus threat – which according to latest reports is no longer a major problem in Brazil.  But it may be relevant to Inbee Park of Korea who has not played in several tournaments this season because of a thumb injury.  She hopes to compete in the Olympics, but what if she cannot? How is her replacement selected?  It's all been determined by the International Golf Federation See www.igfgolf.org and the "Reserve List". Every player for every country has 5 designated replacements in the order of 1-5. 

6. What if a golfer had dual citizenship?  What country do they represent?  For example, Guila Molinaro – who will compete for Italy – was born in Italy and raised in Kenya but carries an Italian Passport.  Stephanie Meadow is a citizen of both Ireland and the U.S.  She has chosen to represent Ireland and will be in the Olympic competition.  

Here’s the pertinent excerpt from the International Golf Federation Nationality Policy: “A competitor will be considered a National of a country if the competitor is a citizen of the country, as defined by the laws of such country. A competitor who is a National of two or more countries at the same time may represent either one of them, as the competitor may elect. However, after having represented one country in an International Golf Competition, the competitor may not represent another country unless first meeting the conditions … that apply to persons who have changed their nationality or acquired a new nationality.” 

7. How hard is the new Olympic Golf Course?  The Barra da Tijuca course in Rio was built and designed just for these Olympic Games by the golf course architect, Gil Hanse –in collaboration with LPGA Hall of Famer Amy Alcott.  The course was designed to enhance the native environment and interestingly, Hanse used Scottish links design for inspiration. (Yes, they both share flat terrain, sand, salt and water!) The women’s yardage is 6,245 yards with many bunkers and greens designed for challenging and strategic approaches.   I think it will be very challenging.  For a hole-by-hole description, see  http://www.igfgolf.org/olympic-games/olympic-venue/hole-by-hole-course-guide/explanations.  Just click on a hole and read the short description and you will be well prepared for the challenging competition you will see.  And there are native animals including rodents, monkeys, owls and even crocodiles that inhabit the environmentally protected areas that are an environmental feature of the course.  

8. What is the format for the four days of competition?  The Olympic golf format is very straight-forward.  The IGF decided to keep it simple:  It is four rounds of stroke play with cumulative scoring.  The three golfers with the lowest 4-round total scores will take home to their country an Olympic medal!  For more information see:  http://www.igfgolf.org/olympic-games/format/

9. What 34 countries and the 60 golfers will be competing for Olympic medals in golf competition at the Barra da Tijuca course in Rio?  Because in my view the Olympics are all about representing your country, I have listed the women Olympians by country – rather than by their Rolex Rankings.  To see the list according to Rolex Rankings, see http://www.igfgolf.org/olympic-games/qualification-system/ogr-women/  or site http://www.rolexrankings.com/en/rankings/.   And read the note at the end of the list which explains why a player with a very high Rolex Ranking will still be an Olympian and has a chance to bring home a medal to her country.  (The following section with list of golfers has been updated on August 8th to correct some spellings and names.)

  

Please read the note at the end of the list which explains why a player with a very high Rolex Ranking will still be an Olympian and has a chance to bring home a medal to her country.

As reported by the International Golf Federation as of August 1: 

Korea - Inbee Park, Sei Young Kim, Amy Chang, In Gee Chun

USA - Lexi Thompson, Stacy Lewis, Gerina Piller

Canada -  Brooke M. Henderson, Alena Sharp
China - Shanshan Feng, Xiyu Lin
Australia - Minjee Lee, Su-Hyun Oh 
Sweden - Anna Nordqvist, Pernilla Lindberg
Norway - Suzann Pettersen, Marianne Skarpnord
Taipei - Teresa Lu, Candie Kung
Japan - Harukyo Nomura, Shiho Oyamo
Great Britain - Charley Hull, Catriona Matthew -- (Note: Great Britain includes Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland)
Thailand - Arlya Jutanugarn, Pornanong Phatlum
Rep S.Africa - Paula Reto, Ashleigh Simon
Spain - Carlota Ciganda, Azahara Munoz
France - Karine Icher, Gladys Nocera
Germany - Sandra Gal, Caroline Masson 
Denmark - Nicole Broch Larsen, Nanna Koerstz Madsen 
Finland - Ursula Wickstrom, Noora Tamminen
Italy - Guila Molinaro, Giulia Sergas 
Ireland - Leona Maquire, Stephanie Meadow
Mexico - Gaby Lopez, Avejandra Llaneza
Switzerland - Albane Valenzuela, Fabrienne In-Albon 
Malaysia - Kelly Tan, Michelle Koh

Brazil – Miriam Nagi, Victoria Lovelady  (Brazil, the home country of the Olympics, was guaranteed at least one place)

New Zealand, - Lydia Ko  (ranked #1 in Rolex Rankings)
Colombia - Mariajo Uribe
Paraguay - Julieta Granada 
Israel - Laetitia Beck
Czechoslovakia - Klara Spilkova
Russia - Maria Verchenova
Belgium - Chloe Leurquin 

Austria - Christine Wolf

India – Aditi Asshok

Hong Kong - Tiffany Chan

Morocco - Maha Haddioui (ranked #540 in Rolex Rankings)

 

Note: The rules set forth by the International Golf Federation stipulate that a country may enter only two players except a country with more than 2 players in the top 15 of the Rolex World Rankings, may enter up to four players in the Olympics.  In this Olympics, Korea has four players in the top 15 and the USA has three – reflected in the list above.

The effect of this 2-golfers-per-country rule is that stronger players are eliminated from the competition in order to insure that as many countries as possible are represented.    For example as of the August 1 rankings, Spain’s Carlota Ciganda and Azahara Munoz are ranked #40 and #46, respectively.  Spain could not enter any more players.  But the flip side of the policy is that golfers from countries with little international exposure will be seen on the Olympic golf course such as Aditi Ashok from India (ranked #456) and Maha Haddioui (ranked #540) from Morocco.  And, as golfers we know that the best golfer can have a bad day while a lesser golfer can have the round of her life.  So, expect some surprises on this new Olympic golf course that according to architect Gil Hanse is inspired by Scottish links golf.

For a complete list of over 1,000 women golfers in the order of their Rolex World Rankings see http://www.rolexrankings.com/en/rankings/.  The rankings are updated weekly.

Save the dates August 17 – 21.  check for TV Times – watch 60 women on the Road to Rio and to an Olympic medal.  First round on Wednesday and final round on Saturday.  

Do you have any more questions?  Just click on the Facebook icon at the top of the page and ask away.  Please post this article and list in your women’s locker room and share with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.