Rory McIlroy

First Olympic golf qualification rankings released

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The first week of 2016 Olympic golf qualification is in the books, providing an extremely early glimpse of what the men’s and women’s fields could look like at the first Olympic golf tournaments since 1904.

Adam Scott and Stacy Lewis are No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking and the Rolex Rankings, respectively, and take up No. 1 on the men’s and women’s Olympic golf ranking lists. GolfChannel.com has the full men’s rankings and women’s rankings.

The rankings will change over the next two years as past tournament results lose value and results from tournaments to be played enter the equation.

The rankings are very different if you look at them from a “Race to Rio” standpoint — like the ATP’s “Race to London” — counting only tournaments played during the qualifying window, which started with last week’s events.

In that scenario, British Open winner Rory McIlroy would top the men’s rankings. He is from Northern Ireland but would represent Ireland at the Olympics, should he qualify and accept a spot.

The men’s and women’s fields for the 2016 Olympic golf tournaments are set to include a maximum of 60 players each. Everybody in the top 15 of the world rankings two years from now will be eligible, up to four per country.

After that, the fields will be filled by the next highest-ranked players with a maximum of two players per nation.

The current Official World Golf Ranking has all Americans beginning with No. 11 Jordan Spieth (and including No. 13 Phil Mickelson) on down the rankings not making the field because four other Americans are ranked higher. Yet the final man to make the field is No. 296 Ricardo Santos of Portugal.

Similarly, No. 12 Paula Creamer and every U.S. woman ranked lower than her does not make it, because there are four Americans in the top 11 of the Rolex Rankings. The last woman to make the current field, outside of the single host country spot for a Brazilian, is No. 545, Mia Piccio of the Philippines.

The men’s 72-hole, stroke-play tournament will be during the first week of the Olympics and the women’s tournament in the second week, according to reports.

The Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony is Aug. 5, 2016.

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

Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross
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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, 22-20 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

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.

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Joe Kovacs goes wild after winning Pre Classic shot put (video)

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Joe Kovacs put together an incredible series of throws to win the Pre Classic shot put on Friday night, and he topped it off with perhaps an even more impressive celebration.

The World champion Kovacs, who is listed at 6 feet and 276 pounds, let out bellowing roars and a “Hell yeah!” after his final throw of 22.13 meters.

Kovacs threw farther with every throw in Eugene, Ore., on Friday night:

20.41
20.49
21.26
21.57 (farthest in the world this year)
21.66 (farthest in the world this year)
22.13 (farthest in the world this year)

Kovacs has come a long way in four years. He finished fourth at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials with a then-personal-best throw of 21.08 meters. His last throw Friday night would have won the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.

MORE: Kovacs emerges from family tragedy, Olympic miss to world leader