Tiger Woods’ ranking drop brings up Olympic question

Tiger Woods
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Tiger Woods has fallen outside the top 20 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in nearly three years, increasing scrutiny as he tries to qualify for the Olympics over the next 20 months.

Woods, who will be 40 years old during the Rio 2016 Olympics, is No. 23 in this week’s rankings. He hasn’t played since missing the cut at the PGA Championship in August.

Woods took a break to rest an injured back and expects to return to competition in December, though he won’t play a PGA Tour event until January at the earliest.

For Woods to qualify for the Rio Olympics, he will likely have to be in the top 15 in the Official World Golf Ranking on July 11, 2016, and definitely be among the top four ranked U.S. men.

If the Olympic golf field was chosen based on today’s rankings, the last American to qualify would be Matt Kuchar, who is ranked 10th overall and fourth among Americans.

Woods is currently the 13th-highest ranked American.

Rankings points are accumulated over a rolling two-year period, where the most recent results and the strongest tournaments are weighted heaviest.

Given that, today’s rankings mean very little in the Olympic picture, because only results since the British Open in July will go into determining the Olympic qualification rankings (and the results so far will be weighted lightest come 2016).

Still, Woods is off to an extremely slow start in Olympic qualification. His only completed tournament during the Olympic qualification window so far was the British Open, where he finished 69th.

Look at Phil Mickelson for a comparison. Mickelson, ranked one spot behind Kuchar, would also not make the U.S. Olympic team if chosen based on today’s rankings.

But Mickelson finished second at the PGA Championship in August, tied for 23rd at the British Open in July and tied for 15th at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational in August. He is off to a vastly better start than Woods in the Olympic qualification window.

Several years ago, Woods and Mickelson were part of golf’s “Big Four.” Interestingly enough, two members of the Big Four would make the Olympic golf field if chosen today.

That would be Ernie Els and Vijay Singh, who are ranked No. 53 and No. 241, respectively. Els is the second-highest ranked South African, and Singh is the only Fijian in the top 1,000.

The Olympic golf field of 60 can include no more than two players per nation once past the top 15 in rankings. It will likely dip into the 300s in rankings to complete the field.

Olympic runner turned escort publishing memoir

Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
Ironman
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon champ in 1984, runs London Marathon at 65

Joan Benoit Samuelson
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Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, ran her first 26.2-mile race in three years at Sunday’s London Marathon and won her age group.

Benoit Samuelson, 65, clocked 3 hours, 20 minutes, 20 seconds to top the women’s 65-69 age group by 7 minutes, 52 seconds. She took pleasure in being joined in the race by daughter Abby, who crossed in 2:58:19.

“She may have beaten me with my replacement knee, but everybody said I wouldn’t do it! I will never say never,” Benoit Samuelson said, according to race organizers. “I am a grandmother now to Charlotte, and it’s my goal to run 5K with her.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Benoit Samuelson raced the 1987 Boston Marathon while three months pregnant with Abby. Before that, she won the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, plus the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983 and the Chicago Marathon in 1985.

Her personal best — 2:21:21 — still holds up. She ranks sixth in U.S. women’s history.

Benoit Samuelson plans to race the Tokyo Marathon to complete her set of doing all six annual World Marathon Majors. The others are Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“I’m happy to finish this race and make it to Tokyo, but I did it today on a wing and a prayer,” she said, according to organizers. “I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel I owe my sport.”

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