Golf is slated to return to the Olympic stage after a 112-year absence when some of the best players in the world compete in Rio 2016.
How that field of premier players will be selected to compete in Rio is becoming clearer. According to GolfChannel.com, the International Golf Federation will release a new ranking system next week that will utilize the Official World Golf Ranking to determine the 60 golfers who will compete in Brazil.
Here’s how it will work: The top 15 players in the ranking automatically qualify, with a cap of four players from an individual country in that top 15. After that, the highest ranking golfers will selected, but with a cap of just two from an individual country. The system seems designed to ensure quality while composing a widely international field. It may also leave out some of the world’s best players, particularly Americans.
If Rio 2016 began this week, Team USA would consist of Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth. Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, all top-15 players right now, would be out.
The ranking system will be the same for women, but based on the Rolex Rankings. This again could leave highly ranked Americans on the sidelines – if the tournament began today, Paula Creamer, Lizette Salas and Angela Stanford would be out, while Stacy Lewis, Lexi Thompson, Michelle Wie and Cristie Kerr would be in.
As the host country, Brazil is guaranteed at least one man and one woman; the men’s and women’s field will also automatically include a minimum of one qualifier from each of the give continents.
According to GolfChannel.com, the way these rankings work means that players ranked as low as 300 among the men, and between 350 and 400 among the women, could qualify for Rio.
Players will begin earning points in this new system starting with next week’s events.