The first Olympic men’s golf tournament in 112 years could very well include some of the oldest athletes across all sports at Rio 2016.
Some golfers who play on the Champions Tour (50 years and older) could earn Olympic berths, given how the 60-golfer field will be made up.
Remember, the Olympic golf field of 60 can include no more than two players per nation once past the top 15 in the Official World Golf Ranking on July 11, 2016. It will likely dip into the 300s in the rankings to complete the field.
That opens the possibility for older golfers from nations without a deep pool of talent to have Olympic aspirations.
Start with German Bernhard Langer, who said at The Masters this week that his big goal next year is the Rio Olympics, according to Bild. He could get to the Olympics, but he has a better chance in a coach or German official role than as a player.
Langer, 57, is ranked No. 638 in the world and eighth among Germans.
The top German is Martin Kaymer, the 2014 U.S. Open winner ranked No. 14. He appears quite likely to take one of the two German berths in Rio.
The No. 2 German is Marcel Siem, a four-time winner on the European Tour ranked No. 69.
Langer faces a tall climb to overtake Siem and the other Germans behind Kaymer. For one, Champions Tour events do not count toward the Official World Golf Ranking.
Secondly, Langer’s only official PGA Tour or European Tour events the last two seasons were the Masters (tied for 25th in 2013, tied for eighth in 2014). And with those stellar Masters finishes, he’s still more than 500 ranking spots behind Siem. He needs to be very high on the top page of the leaderboard at Augusta National this year or next (next year would earn him more Olympic ranking points than this year) to be in a better place in the rankings on the Olympic qualification cutoff date in July 2016.
A Champions Tour golfer with a better chance at Rio 2016 is Vijay Singh, the three-time major champion from Fiji ranked No. 221. Singh, 52, is the only Fijian ranked in the top 1,500 in the world. He has no competition from within his country for an Olympic berth.
He’s also still active on the PGA Tour, placing in the top 10 at the Valspar Championship just last month.
Then there’s Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, whose Olympic prospects fall between Singh and Langer. Jimenez, the cigar-smoking 51-year-old, is ranked No. 60. He is second among Spanish golfers, behind No. 9 Sergio Garcia.
Jimenez will want to make the most of the Masters, given the No. 3 Spaniard, No. 83 overall Pablo Larrazabal, is not in the field this week.