Tiger Woods

Your (Potential) 2016 Rio Olympics Golf Field

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As we edge closer to this year’s U.S. Open, and to the return of golf to the Olympics in 2016, we at OlympicTalk wish to once again bring you the potential field of Rio Olympics men’s golfers.

In the 60-man Rio field, rules dictate that the first fifteen golfers are determined by their spot in the world golf rankings regardless of nationality. After that, every eligible nation gets a max of two golfers, so long as those two spots aren’t already taken by athletes in the top fifteen. So in the case of Team USA, which would send six golfers, you better be high to very high in the rankings. As for Venezuela, just being No. 334 in the world would been enough to get you into the field. Also, as the host, Brazil automatically gets two spots, which will likely bump someone.

The current list also highlights how important Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell’s decision to play for either Great Britain or Ireland might be on the field. This list assumes they’ll play for Great Britain. But since both are in the top-fifteen, if they played for Ireland then the spots occupied by Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry would be given to another country further down the list.

Here’s the list as it stands based on this week’s World Golf Rankings:

1. Tiger Woods, USA
2. Rory McIlroy, Great Britain
3. Adam Scott, Australia
4. Matt Kuchar, USA
5. Justin Rose, Great Britain
6. Luke Donald, Great Britain
7. Brandt Snedeker, USA
8. Graeme McDowell, Great Britain
9. Louis Oosthuizen, South Africa
10. Phil Mickelson, USA
11. Lee Westwood, Great Britain
12. Keegan Bradley, USA
13. Steve Stricker, USA
14. Charl Schwartzel, South Africa
15. Sergio Garcia, Spain

16. (23) Peter Hanson, Sweden
17. (25) Matteo Manassero, Italy
18. (26) Jason Day, Australia
19. (33) Henrik Stenson, Sweden
20. (34) Martin Kaymer, Germany
21. (35) Thorbjorn Olesen, Denmark
22. (38) Francesco Molinari, Italy
23. (41) Gonzalo Fdez-Castano, Spain
24. (46) Nicolas Colsaerts, Belgium
25. (52) Thongchai Jaidee, Thailand
26. (58) Marcel Siem, Germany
27. (59) Angel Cabrera, Argentina
28. (62) Bernd Wiesberger, Austria
29. (64) Hideki Matsuyama, Japan
30. (66) Mikko Ilonen, Finland
31. (70) Padraig Harrington, Ireland
32. (72) Hiroyuki Fujita, Japan
33. (73) Thomas Bjorn, Denmark
34. (75) Brendon de Jonge, Zimbabwe
35. (81) Bae Sang-moon, Korea
36. (83) Shane Lowry, Ireland
37. (87) Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Thailand
38. (96) Joost Luiten, Holland
39. (98) K.J. Choi, Korea
40. (105) Graham Delaet, Canada
41. (111) Raphael Jacquelin, France
42. (118) Victor Dubuisson, France
43. (123) Gaganjeet Bhullar, India
44. (126) Felipe Aguilar, Chile
45. (136) Vijay Singh, Fiji
46. (139) Jeev Milkha Singh, India
47. (150) Ricardo Santos, Portugal
48. (157) Liang Wen-chong, China
49. (169) Juvic Pagunsan, Philippines
50. (170) Michael Hendry, New Zealand (50)
51. (193) David Hearn, Canada
52. (194) Wu Ashun, China
53. (209) Andres Romero, Argentina
54. (240) Siddikur Rahman, Bangladesh
55. (246) Camilo Villegas, Colombia
56. (253) Adilson da Silva, Brazil
57. (260) Espen Kofstad, Norway
58. (321) Tim Sluiter, Netherlands
59. (334) Jhonattan Vegas, Venezuela
60. (353) Alexandre Rocha, Brazil

However, if Rory and McDowell sign up with Ireland:
57. (334) Jhonattan Vegas, Venezuela
58. (341) Jose de Jesus Rodriguez, Mexico
59. (353) Alexandre Rocha, Brazil
60. (355) Antonio Lascuna, Philippines

Mary Cain ‘back to basics’ after ‘disappointing year’

Mary Cain
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Mary Cain, who in 2013 became the youngest U.S. track and field athlete to make a World Championships team and turned pro at age 17 later that fall, is spending her run-up to next year and the 2016 Olympics home in New York rather than returning to Oregon where she went to college and trained last year.

In June, Cain finished eighth in the 1500m at the U.S. Championships, missing the top-four placement necessary to make the World Championships team.

“After a disappointing year, I knew that I needed a change,” Cain said in a blog post Tuesday. “For me, that meant returning home to New York (and its bagels) or where it all started. With 2016 being such an important year, it’s a blessing to be able to, as my mom says, ‘Go back to basics.'”

Cain, who was a freshman at the University of Portland last year, is still coached by three-time New York City Marathon champion Alberto Salazar with the aid of New Zealand 2004 Olympic 10,000m runner John Henwood, according to the blog.

“We’re trying to get [running] back to fun with her,” Henwood said, according to Runner’s World.

Cain moved from Bronxville, N.Y., to Portland after graduating high school last year, completing a decorated prep career filled with records and state and national titles. She trained with Salazar’s group, which includes Olympic 10,000m gold and silver medalists Mo Farah and Galen Rupp.

Cain won the World Junior Championships 3000m in 2014 and became the youngest woman to make a senior World Championships 1500m final in 2013, when she finished 10th.

“I always said the key to running well was keeping the sport fun,” Cain said in the blog post. “With the help of this great NY running community, I am happy to say that I have found that love again! I’m looking forward to a rewarding Indoor and Outdoor season.

“Thanks to everyone who has supported me through the ups and downs! I hope to make 2016 a year to remember!”

MORE TRACK AND FIELD: Usain Bolt returns to Oktoberfest, with Olympic Alpine skier

Brazil’s best tennis player: ‘tough to dream’ of Rio Olympic medal

Thomaz Bellucci
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Thomaz Bellucci admits playing at a home Olympics brings at least some pressure.

“To well represent Brazil,” the Sao Paulo native clarified at the U.S. Open in New York last month. “It’s tough to dream about having a medal.”

The 27-year-old Bellucci is the only Brazilian tennis player, man or woman, ranked in the world top 50. He sits at No. 31, having this season reached his first ATP final since 2012 and winning it at the Geneva Open in Switzerland in May.

Brazil’s Olympic Committee set a target of 27 to 30 medals in Rio, after earning 17 at London 2012. The added glory likely won’t come from tennis, a sport in which a Brazilian has never stood on an Olympic podium.

“For the Olympics, I don’t feel too many pressure,” Bellucci said, “because even if I play in Brazil, I know there are many players more favored than me because [Roger] Federer‘s going to play, [Novak] Djokovic, all these guys have so much more pressure than me because they have more chance to have a medal.”

Olympic tennis gained greater significance on the busy tour calendars among top players with recent Games.

On the men’s side, every medalist from 2008 and 2012 had already reached at least one Grand Slam final in his career. That group of six included Federer (2012 silver), Djokovic (2008 bronze), Rafael Nadal (2008 gold) and Andy Murray (2012 gold).

But if Bellucci and the Brazilians look back, they can find unexpected, inspiring runs. In 1996, Brazil’s Fernando Meligeni came to the Atlanta Games ranked No. 95 in the world, having never made it past the fourth round of a Grand Slam.

The charismatic Meligeni, a lefty who sometimes played wearing his cap backwards, reached the final four in Stone Mountain, twice playing for a medal, and hitting a tweener on the penultimate point of his semifinal against Spain’s Sergi Bruguera.

He lost both medal-round matches, including the bronze match to Indian Leander Paes, who won the U.S. Open mixed doubles last month with another 1996 Olympic singles tennis player, Swiss Martina Hingis. Hingis is attempting to return to the Olympics next year for the first time since 1996.

In 2004, Chile’s Nicolas Massu won singles and doubles gold in Athens having never reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam in singles.

Bellucci debuted at the Olympics in 2008 and hasn’t won a single Games match. He rose from a No. 85 overall ranking in Beijing to No. 42 going into the London 2012 Olympics, where he forced then-Wimbledon semifinalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to three sets. Bellucci and partner Andre Sa were the only doubles pair to take a set off Americans Bob and Mike Bryan at London 2012.

“Beijing I was very surprised, because I was very young and had no idea,” Bellucci said. “In London, I had a very tough draw against Tsonga. Let’s see if I can have more luck in Brazil to have a better draw.”

Not even the great Gustavo Kuerten could sniff an Olympic medal. The three-time French Open champion — the only Brazilian man to win a Grand Slam — couldn’t do better than the quarterfinals in 2000 and 2004.

The analysis of Bellucci in the scope of Kuerten, who is of a similar tall, thin build, has silenced in recent years.

“They used to say that when I was young, when I was starting to play well,” said Bellucci, whose four ATP titles came on Kuerten’s favorite surface, clay, while the Rio Olympic tournament will be on hard courts. “They want to compare me and Guga [Kuerten], but anyway they are not comparing anymore because Guga is so much bigger than me.”

As much as Bellucci tries to keep expectations low, he urges that his sport is one of the most popular in Brazil.

“I think soccer, for sure, is No. 1 and then volleyball is second and then tennis, I think,” he said. “I think we have more people playing tennis than volleyball because I think all the ages can play tennis.”

MORE TENNIS: Martina Hingis waits on Federer, Wawrinka to decide on Rio 2016