Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington‘s hope is to improve more than 300 spots in the Official World Golf Ranking over the next 21 months to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
“I don’t normally tell the media my goals, but I will this time,” he said at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, where he was in a nine-way tie for the lead during the second round Friday when this post was published. “My aim is to return to the world top 15 by 2016 for the Olympics. It makes no difference where I am in the world now because I’ve got 21 months of results counting from here.”
Harrington, who will be 44 come golf’s return to the Olympics for the first time since 1904, was ranked as high as No. 3 in the world around a stretch when he won the 2007 and 2008 British Opens and the 2008 PGA Championship, his last PGA or European Tour victory.
He fell to No. 131 at the end of 2013 and is now No. 324.
Harrington is right that he will likely have to be in the top 15 in the world at the Olympic rankings cutoff on July 11, 2016, to be assured of making Ireland’s team.
He is also right that his current ranking makes little difference when it comes to Olympic qualification, since the Olympic qualification rankings are mostly determined by yet-to-come results from now until July 2016.
The men’s and women’s fields for the 2016 Olympic golf tournaments are set to include 60 players each. Everybody in the top 15 of the world rankings will be eligible up to four per country.
After that, the field will be filled by the next highest-ranked players with a maximum of two players per nation.
If Ireland has two players in the top 15, nobody from Ireland outside the top 15 makes it to Rio.
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy is from Northern Ireland but will compete for Ireland at the 2016 Olympics, should he qualify, as expected. Same goes for countryman Graeme McDowell, ranked 18th. The top Irishman is No. 55 Shane Lowry.