If the 2016 U.S. Olympic golf team was named today, Phil Mickelson would not be one of the automatic qualifiers.
The field provisions for the first Olympic golf tournament since 1904 include allowing everybody in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) top 15 with a maximum of four per country.
That’s where the U.S. qualifiers come in. Mickelson is ranked No. 11 in the world, but he’s fifth among Americans behind Tiger Woods (3), Matt Kuchar (4), Bubba Watson (5) and Jordan Spieth (10). Another four Americans are Nos. 12-15, right behind Mickelson.
Mickelson, 43, is the second-oldest among those nine players. He will be 46 when the 2016 Olympic golf field is determined. Age is not deterring the five-time major champion, who seems to have etched in stone his travel plans to Rio de Janeiro in two years.
Mickelson told ESPN’s Rick Reilly his intentions in a story published last week:
Let me get this straight. From age 43 to age 48, you’re going to play the best golf of your life?
“I think so. I’m going to win a bunch of tournaments. I’m going to win at least one U.S. Open, maybe two. And I’m going to make the 2016 Olympic team. And really, I’d love to make the 2020 Olympic team. I’d be 50. How cool would that be?”
A 50-year-old in the Olympics wouldn’t be unheard of. It happens in equestrian and sailing. But in golf?
Well, that would be incredibly difficult for an American man. But not out of the question globally.
Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, who will turn 52 in 2016, would make the Olympic golf field if named today due to another provision, which allows two golfers per country overall once you get past the top 15.
The cigar-loving Jimenez would be the second of two golfers from Spain, behind world No. 8 Sergio Garcia. Jimenez is ranked No. 27, but if he falls one spot among his countrymen, he’d be out. The next highest ranked Spaniard is currently No. 53.