Olympic golf

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.

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Rio mayor: Golf course ‘ready for the Olympic Games’

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Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes handed over the $10.6 million golf course to the organizers of the 2016 Rio Olympics on Sunday, declaring that “the course is ready for the Olympic Games.”

The 970,000 square meter course includes an artificial lake and is located in Barra da Tijuca, just to the west of the city of Rio. It was designed by American golf architect Gil Hanse. Built with private financing, after the Olympics the course will become a public facility for at least 20 years.

Carlos Nuzman, the President of the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee, praised the course for giving the game of golf a chance to grow in Brazil.

“It’s a big legacy,” he told the AP. “It’s a public golf course. There are a lot of young kids — boys and girls — who want to participate to develop golf. It’s a chance for golf in a new region of the world to be developed.”

The Rio 2016 committee announced that along with the golf course, the Whitewater Stadium and Future Arena were also finished and ready for next summer’s Olympics.

MORE: Adam Scott still outspoken about Olympic golf

Olympic golf selection ranking system revealed

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Golf is slated to return to the Olympic stage after a 112-year absence when some of the best players in the world compete in Rio 2016.

How that field of premier players will be selected to compete in Rio is becoming clearer. According to GolfChannel.com, the International Golf Federation will release a new ranking system next week that will utilize the Official World Golf Ranking to determine the 60 golfers who will compete in Brazil.

Here’s how it will work: The top 15 players in the ranking automatically qualify, with a cap of four players from an individual country in that top 15. After that, the highest ranking golfers will selected, but with a cap of just two from an individual country. The system seems designed to ensure quality while composing a widely international field. It may also leave out some of the world’s best players, particularly Americans.

If Rio 2016 began this week, Team USA would consist of Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth. Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, all top-15 players right now, would be out.

The ranking system will be the same for women, but based on the Rolex Rankings. This again could leave highly ranked Americans on the sidelines – if the tournament began today, Paula Creamer, Lizette Salas and Angela Stanford would be out, while Stacy Lewis, Lexi Thompson, Michelle Wie and Cristie Kerr would be in.

As the host country, Brazil is guaranteed at least one man and one woman; the men’s and women’s field will also automatically include a minimum of one qualifier from each of the give continents.

According to GolfChannel.com, the way these rankings work means that players ranked as low as 300 among the men, and between 350 and 400 among the women, could qualify for Rio.

Players will begin earning points in this new system starting with next week’s events.

Olympic golf course progress speeds up