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.

Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics chief quits

Yuzuru Hanyu opens Olympic season with record score

Yuzuru Hanyu
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A sore knee didn’t hold Yuzuru Hanyu back. A record score to open his Olympic season.

The Olympic and world champion from Japan hit a pair of quadruple jumps in his short program at the Autumn Classic, a lower-level event in Montreal.

He was rewarded with 112.72 points, the highest short program score recorded under the 13-year-old judging system. Video is here.

It looked like a home competition for Hanyu.

Upon finishing, he bowed toward one set of bleachers (maybe a dozen rows) at the Sportsplexe Pierrefonds. More than two dozen Japanese flags made it hard to see most of the faces.

He bettered Javier Fernández, a two-time world champion and training partner, by 11.52 points. Fernández also landed two quadruple jumps to tally 101.2.

Full scores will be here upon the conclusion of the short program. The free skate is Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. A live stream is here.

Hanyu now owns the three highest short program scores under the 13-year-old system. The other two were set in the 2015-16 season.

Showdowns like Hanyu-Fernández are usually reserved for, at the earliest, the Grand Prix series in late October and November.

Hanyu and Fernández are very familiar with each other, having shared a coach in Canadian Brian Orser, the 1988 Olympic silver medalist, since 2012. They train in Toronto.

In that time, Hanyu became the first Japanese man to win an Olympic title (and the second teen from any nation to do it). He followed it up with world titles later in 2014 and this year.

Fernández achieved unfathomable success for a Spanish skater — world titles in 2015 and 2016, overtaking Hanyu in the free skate both times.

In PyeongChang, Hanyu can become the first man to repeat as Olympic champion since Dick Button in 1952. Fernández can become the third Spaniard to earn a Winter Olympic medal of any color in any sport, and the first since 1992.

The figure skating season continues next week with Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the final Olympic qualifying competition. North Korea could clinch its first spots in any sport for the Olympics in the pairs event.

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USOC letter assures Olympians about South Korea security

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The U.S. Olympic Committee’s security chief sent a letter to potential Winter Olympians saying there are no indications that recent developments between the U.S. and North Korea have compromised security in South Korea.

The letter, obtained by The Associated Press shortly after it was sent Friday, makes no suggestion that the U.S. is considering skipping the PyeongChang Winter Games for security reasons.

But Chief Security Officer Nicole Deal does write that provocations that have been volleyed between the United States and North Korea are likely to persist for the foreseeable future, and “should not be dismissed as insignificant nor feared as precursors of an inevitable conflict.”

The letter comes at the end of a week in which France’s sports minister suggested the country’s athletes would stay home if security could not be guaranteed.

The International Olympic Committee, trying to calm concerns, reiterated that in conversations with high-level officials in China and South Korea, none have expressed doubt about the Winter Games proceeding as scheduled, next February.

The USOC also sent out a public statement Friday from CEO Scott Blackmun.

“We will continue to work with our State Department and local organizers to ensure that our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe,” he said.

The letter, sent to athletes, national governing bodies and other Olympic leaders in the United States, said the USOC’s security division is operating as “business as usual for our security planning and preparations.”

Deal writes that the USOC is reviewing crisis management plans that address a range of potential scenarios “to ensure our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe.”

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