The United States is the only country with the maximum of four players on both its Men’s and Women’s teams for the 2021 Olympic Games golf competition, which begins with the Men’s event from July 29-Aug. 1 at Kasumigaseki Country Club just outside Tokyo.
The Olympics were scheduled for last summer, but were postponed for a year because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Countries with four players in the top 15 in the World Golf Rankings can send that many, while all other countries are allowed two, and the U.S. will be represented by No. 3 Justin Thomas, No. 4 Collin Morikawa (pictured) of La Canada Flintridge and Cal, No. 5 Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, and No. 5 Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis.
Both tournaments will have a field of 60 players.
“We are extremely pleased with the strength and diversity of both the Men’s and Women’s fields, which reflect the continued growth and popularity of golf,” Annika Sorenstam, President of the International Golf Federation, which oversees the Olympic golf competition, said in a statement.
However, more has been made about players who are not going because of concerns over Coronavirus and other reasons.
Second-ranked Dustin Johnson announced earlier this year that he was not going to Tokyo after also skipping the first golf competition in the Olympics since 1904 in St. Louis five years ago in Rio de Janeiro because concerns over the due to concerns over the Zika virus.
“I don’t know, I really didn’t think much about it,” Johnson said about his decision this time. “I actually didn’t really ever decide whether I was going to play or not, I just didn’t sign up. But it’s right in the middle of a big stretch of golf for me, so that was the reason I was kind of waffling on it a little bit.
“It’s a long way to travel, and I think WGC is the week right after it. The British is a couple weeks before it. It’s a lot of traveling at a time where it’s important for me to feel like I’m focused playing on the PGA Tour.”
Johnson didn’t mention Covid-19, but you have to think that might have entered into his thinking since Japan is going through a resurgence of the virus and spectators will not be allowed in the Olympics Opening Ceremony or any competitions.
Top-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain is playing, along with Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry of Ireland, Viktor Hovland of Norway, Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood of Great Britain, Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman of Australia, Abraham Ancer of Mexico and Corey Conners of Canada.
Sungjae Im and Si Woo Kim of South Korea are passing up the 149th Open Championship next week to be fresh for the Olympics, because if either one earns a medal he will be excused from the otherwise mandatory 20-month military service for men between 18 and 28. Kim is 26 and Im is 23.
However, among those who recently decided to withdraw from the Olympics are No. 10 Tyrrell Hatton of England, Sergio Garcia of Spain, Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and Matt Fitzpatrick of England.
“I have made one of the most difficult decisions of my life,” Garcia wrote on Twitter. “I love the Olympic Games, and it is always an honor to represent Spain, however my number one sporting priority is in the Ryder Cup at this moment. Everyone knows what the Ryder Cup means to me. My number one objective is to qualify for the European Team by my own merit and not have to wait for a possible invitation. To represent Spain in the Olympic Games is a gift and enormous responsibility, and requires 100% mental focus. If I already qualified for the Ryder Cup, I would play the Olympic Games with certainty.”
Said Hatton: “I have decided after much thought and consideration to step down from Team GB. I was very much looking forward to representing my country at the Olympic Games. However, with the ongoing issues relating to Covid-19 and international travel, along with the congested schedule we now face, I feel it is the correct decision to ensure I get the best out of my game for the remainder of the season.”
The three Men’s medal winners from the 2016 Olympics—Justin Rose of England (Gold), Henrik Stenson of Sweden (Silver) and Matt Kuchar of the U.S. (Bronze)—failed to qualify this time.
The Women’s Golf runs from Aug. 5-8, also at Kasumigaseki Country Club, with No. 1 Nelly Korda, No. 5 Danielle Kang of Westlake Village and Pepperdine, No. 9 Lexi Thompson and No. 13 Jessica Korda representing the U.S.
South Korea is the only other country with four players competing—No. 2 Jin Young Ko, No. 3 Inbee Park, No. 4 Se Young Kim and No. 6 Hyo-Joo Kim.
Others competing include No. 8 Brooke Henderson of Canada, No. 8 Yuka Saso of the Philippines, No. 10 Lydia Ko of New Zealand, Nasa Hataoka of Japan, Patty Tavatanakit (UCLA) and Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, Minjee Lee and Hannah Green of Australia, Shanshan Feng of China, Sophia Popov of Germany, Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow of Ireland and Carlota Giganda of Spain.
Park won the Gold Medal, Ko took the Silver and Feng claimed the Bronze in Rio.