Tiger Woods wishes Olympic golf tournament had ‘more quality’ field

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Tiger Woods won’t be competing in golf’s return to the Olympics at the Rio Games, or in any golf tournament until his ailing back allows him to get in shape. But he’s in Maryland this week for the PGA Tour’s Quicken Loans National, a tournament that benefits his Tiger Woods Foundation.

The former world No. 1 was asked Wednesday about the upcoming Rio Olympics, and he said he wished the International Golf Federation would have implemented a better format.

“It’ll be a spectacular event just because it’s the Olympics,” Woods said during a press conference. “It would be better if we had, I guess, a more top-heavy field. For me personally, I wish that they would have gone with, let’s say, the top 50 guys in the world.”

Sixty men and 60 women will compete in Rio’s golf tournament. The top 15 players in the world golf rankings are eligible, as long as there are no more than four players from one country. The next-highest ranked players outside the top 15 are eligible as long as no more than two players come from one country.

Qualifying for Rio concludes July 11. Here are the men’s rankings as they stand now.

“I just wish they would have had more quality of a field, similar to what we face in major championships, or the world golf championships, or the Players,” Woods said. “We have these top-heavy fields and I think the Olympics really deserve that.

“But I understand they’re trying to promote the game of golf and give more participants a chance to be part of the Olympic experience and be a part of golf. And try to get more of these countries that have not traditionally been part of golf to be a part of it, and for them to grow, Brazil being one of them. To have two players that aren’t ranked very high but will still be able to compete in the Olympics, I think it’s great for the country of Brazil.”

Golf was voted into the Olympics in 2009, when Woods was still the No. 1 player in the world. He was the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year and leading money winner that year, before injuries began piling up. He returned to form in 2013, when was again the Player of the Year and leading money winner, but various injuries – most notably to his back – have since derailed his legendary career.

Now 40 years old, Woods is ranked No. 582 in the world. He hasn’t competed in 10 months.

Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler are currently the top four American men.

MORE: Rory McIlroy skips Rio Olympics due to Zika virus

Finn Christian Jagge, 1992 Olympic slalom champion, dies at 54

Finn Christian Jagge
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Finn Christian Jagge, the surprise 1992 Olympic slalom champion, has died at age 54, according to Norway’s Olympic Committee.

Jagge’s wife, Trine-Lise Jagge, posted on Facebook that he died of an acute illness.

Jagge, then 25, won the slalom at the Albertville Games in Savoie, France, stunning defending champion Alberto Tomba of Italy. Jagge had the fastest first run by 1.07 seconds and relegated Tomba to silver by .28 of a second after the second run. Tomba was going for his fourth straight Olympic gold medal.

Jagge’s father won a Norwegian record 42 national tennis championships. His mother competed in Alpine skiing at the 1960 and 1964 Olympics, according to Olympedia.org.

Jagge won his first Norwegian national title at age 18. After knee and back injuries, he won seven World Cup slaloms in the 1990s, retiring in 2000.

Vår største kjærlighet, vår største helt og klippe. Verdens beste Pappa og verdens beste MesterHubby, døde i dag, etter akutt sykdom❤️Det er ubeskrivelig vondt og vi er helt knust.

Posted by Trine-Lise Jagge on Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin, Olympian, world champion snowboarder, drowns in spearfishing accident

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Alex “Chumpy” Pullin, an Olympian and world champion snowboarder, drowned while spearfishing on Australia’s Gold Coast on Wednesday.

A police spokesperson said a 32-year-old man, later identified as Pullin, was unresponsive when taken from the water and died despite receiving CPR from lifeguards and emergency treatment from paramedics.

The accident happened at Palm Beach around 10:40 a.m. local time. Pullin had been diving on an artificial reef when he was found by a snorkeler.

“Another diver was out there and located him on the sea floor and raised the attention of nearby surfers who sought lifeguards to bring him in,” police said. “He didn’t have an oxygen mask. We understand he was free diving and spearfishing out on the reef.”

Pullin competed in Olympic snowboard cross in 2010, 2014 and 2018 with a best finish of sixth. He won back-to-back world titles in 2011 and 2013. He carried Australia’s flag at the Sochi Olympic Opening Ceremony in 2014.

“We are all in shock today as one of the most beloved members of our close snow sport community, Chumpy, has sadly lost his life in what appears to be a tragic accident,” Snow Australia CEO Michael Kennedy said in a statement. “He was a mentor to so many of our younger snowboarders, giving up his time to coach and provide advice to our future Olympians. His loss will be felt right across our community.

“We know it won’t just be here in Australia that Chumpy’s legacy will be remembered, but throughout the international snowboarding community. It wasn’t just his ability to deliver results that will be missed, but his leadership and the path that he laid for so many.”

His parents owned a ski and snowboard shop in the Australian Alps, where Pullin began riding at age 8. Older friends gave him the nickname “Chumpy,” and it stuck.

Pullin, who spent time as a frontman for the surf-reggae band love Charli, often brought a guitar with him while traveling for competitions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.