Tiger Woods

Your (Potential) 2016 Rio Olympics Golf Field

Leave a comment

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

Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross beat top-ranked Brazilians for first time

Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross beat Brazil’s best beach volleyball team for the first time and extended the longest winning streak of their partnership in winning the Moscow Grand Slam on Sunday.

“That just shows our growth,” Ross said. “We’re still on the up and up.”

Walsh Jennings, a three-time Olympic champion, and Ross, an Olympic silver medalist, beat Olympic qualifying top seed Larissa and Talita 22-20, 21-17 in the final for their third straight international title.

Walsh Jennings and Ross have now won 22 straight FIVB World Tour matches, the best run of their three-year parternship. Walsh Jennings last reached a streak this long from 2007 to 2010, when she won 78 straight international matches with Misty May-Treanor and Nicole Branagh, according to BVBInfo.com

The Americans had lost all three of their previous matches (one a one-set exhibition) versus Larissa and Talita:

Feb. 27, 2015 — 26-24 in Rio de Janeiro
Aug. 23, 2015 — 21-18, 21-16 in Long Beach, Calif.
March 20, 2016 — 22-20, 21-19 in Vitoria, Brazil

“You know what makes me happy? This is done. Now we’ve done it, we’ve beaten them and put it to rest,” Walsh Jennings said, according to USA Volleyball.

Larissa and Talita, seeking to become Brazil’s first Olympic women’s beach volleyball champions in 20 years, have won 12 of their 20 international tournaments since pairing in July 2014.

The FIVB World Tour continues in Hamburg, Germany, next week, the final event in Olympic qualifying. Walsh Jennings and Ross are expected to play there.

Walsh Jennings and Ross and Larissa and Talita are already qualified for the Rio Games.

MORE: Logan Tom continues volleyball career in Indonesia

Star goalie Ashleigh Johnson set to make U.S. Olympic water polo history

Ashleigh Johnson
Getty Images
Leave a comment

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. (AP) — Donna Johnson just wanted her five children to be safe around the pool at her Miami home. That was it, really, the first step in Ashleigh Johnson‘s path from prodigy to USA water polo.

Swim lessons turned into meets when their instructor told Donna Johnson her children were so good she had nothing left to teach them. When Ashleigh and her siblings continued to show athletic potential as they got older, Donna Johnson, a single mother and nurse from Jamaica, delivered a simple message to them.

“For everything that they do, it’s not about pressure, it’s about maximizing your potential,” she said.

Now her oldest daughter is about to make history this summer. Ashleigh, a goaltender blessed with jaw-dropping athleticism, is a lock for Rio de Janeiro, putting her on track to become the first black woman to play water polo for the U.S. Olympic team.

While this is just the fifth Games for the women’s tournament, Johnson’s ascension to elite goaltender is a welcome development for a sport looking for more diversity and growth outside of water polo-crazy Southern California.

Each of Johnson’s teammates is from the Golden State, and the same three Pac-12 schools — UCLA, Southern California and Stanford — dominate the roster. Seventy-five percent of USA Water Polo’s roughly 42,000 members live in California.

After starring at Ransom Everglades High School in Florida, Johnson opted for Princeton instead of USC.

“I think Ashleigh Johnson’s the future of our sport in the U.S.,” USA Water Polo CEO Christopher Ramsey said. “She’s an out-of-California athlete who grew up in Florida. She went to Princeton, high academic achiever from a different background than a lot of traditional water polo families are from.”

Just a short while ago, Johnson, 21, wasn’t interested in that future, at least with the national team. The thought of moving away from her tight-knit family and joining a new team in California wasn’t appealing to her, but several conversations with coach Adam Krikorian helped change her mind.

“I didn’t really know that the Olympics was a possibility for me,” Johnson said. “I thought it was just like coming and training like I had been doing for years, but just living out here, and he made me realize that the Olympics was a great opportunity and a possibility for me.”

Krikorian first heard of Johnson about 10 years ago when he was the head coach at UCLA. Nicolle Payne, one of his assistants with the Bruins and a former national team goaltender, was working a camp in Miami when she sent an email to Krikorian about America’s next great goaltender.

“She said, ‘Adam, keep this name in your mind,’ and she told me her name — Ashleigh Johnson,” Krikorian said. “‘She is the most amazing goalie I have ever seen.”‘

It’s easy to see what got Payne’s attention.

The 6-foot-1 Johnson has long arms, perfect for firing outlet passes for U.S. counterattacks and guarding the top parts of the goal, and she cuts through the water with impressive ease. Sick of swimming in high school, she was offered an out by her mother and coach if she won the 50-meter freestyle at states as a sophomore. So she won and walked away.

She collected 54 saves while helping the United States qualify for the Olympics at a tournament in the Netherlands in March, including 10 stops in an 11-6 victory over Italy in the final, capping an 8-0 performance for the Americans. But that gifted sprinter is still inside her.

At a recent practice, assistant coach Chris Oeding gave the team a chance to cut short the swimming portion of training if the players could assemble a sub-1:40 200-yard freestyle relay team. Krikorian and assistant coach Dan Klatt offered a nodding Johnson as a candidate, but four different players were chosen.

They made the time, but Johnson stole the show by swimming the second leg alongside the relay, leaving Krikorian and Klatt shaking their heads as she churned through the pool like a motorboat.

“She’s a freak,” Princeton coach Luis Nicolao said. “She’s just athletic. I often joke she could probably start for our basketball team, track team, swim team, she just has that natural ability to succeed at anything she does.”

Johnson and her sister, Chelsea, play for Nicolao with the Tigers. They have two older brothers, Blake and William, and one younger brother, Julius.

Their parents got divorced when Ashleigh was little, and Donna Johnson raised the kids mostly on her own. It’s a challenging juggling act not lost on her children.

“I mean she’s such a hard-working, loving and determined woman,” Ashleigh said, “and she’s taught me that hard work ethic and just to try my best at everything and love what I do.”

Chelsea Johnson, who joked that she followed her sister to Princeton because she didn’t want to play against her, said she sees similarities between Ashleigh and their mother.

“I think the biggest thing from her, she and Ashleigh, is that she’s always smiling, no matter what,” she said. “Like her and Ashleigh, not matter what they’re doing, no matter how hard the thing is, they’re always smiling and trying to make everyone around them feel better about whatever’s happening.”

VIDEO: Ashleigh Johnson stands out on U.S. water polo team