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Olympics Should Use Old World Cup Qualifying Format Instead of World Rankings

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Olympics Should Use Old World Cup Qualifying Format Instead of World Rankings
(Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
If Olympics were played today Tiger Woods would be one of nine players to compete for the U.S.. The most any other country would have is two.

The World Cup will be played in a few weeks at Royal Melbourne in Australia. With golf going into the 2016 Olympics, maybe Olympic officials need to take a look at the history of the World Cup and make some revisions in format and selection process.

After a number of changes, the Olympics will have 72-holes, stroke play, without a team competition. The way they have chosen to select participants assures that it will be more like a limited field golf event, like a WGC, but with a weaker field. The WGC events seldom go lower than top 70, plus some former teams members from Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup. The Olympics would need to go down to No. 214 if competitors were chosen today.

The current selection method guarantees the competition will have a decent showing of top names, which may be what is most important to the Olympic Committee. But does it really serve the spirit of the Olympics? What the committee should do is to use the old World Cup qualifying format to allow more countries to participate.

The old World Cup selection process included regional qualifiers. That meant every country, no matter how large or small, could field a team and send it to their regional event. Regional qualifiers allowed each country that wanted a World Cup team to have one. Whether they made it to the finals or not that time, it still allowed a country to become like the Jamaican Bobsled Team only for golf.  

Isn't that more compelling? Could two guys from Iceland end up in the Olympic golf finals? How about Vanuatu? Saudi Arabia? Think they'd have a sand game? Do the Russians even know how to play golf? How excited are they going to be to be left out?

In the old World Cup qualifiers, there were sure to be some guys who did well to post 120 for 18 holes. World Cup organizers realized there was no sense in clogging up the finals with that kind of scoring. But it doesn't mean that four years down the road that same individual couldn't improve enough to shoot par. And par might qualify next time.

After the regional play in World Cup, a certain number of teams advanced to the World Cup Final. There was a team competition and an individual competition.

The old World Cup, like today's version, had two players on a country's team. That would be similar to the number of players selected for track and field events or swimming events, per country.   But that's not how it will work for the Olympics.

If the current Olympic selection method were used and the teams were chosen today, the U.S. would have nine golfers in the Olympics. No other country would have more than two. That's because the Olympics, currently, will take the top 15 on the world rankings and then the next 45 players in the rankings below that, except that a country can have only two players below No. 16.

Today you'd go down to No. 214 to get 60 players. ( See below.)

The bigger question is shouldn't countries be in charge of who represents them? Shouldn't they be allowed to make that selection?

Maybe a country would hold an Olympic qualifying golf tournament. Maybe players would be determined by proclamation of the Sultan or King or Prime Minister. Whatever works for each country. Maybe they just want to select their players on the basis of world ranking points. But it should be the choice of each nation, not the world golf rankings.

Finally, the World Cup awarded a team trophy called the World Cup and an individual trophy called the International Trophy. Adopting that would allow the Olympics to award teams gold, silver, and bronze and individuals gold, silver and bronze, like gymnastics. (The last individual champion at the World Cup was Tiger Woods in 1999, in case you were wondering.) 

If the golf Olympic golf competitors were picked today, the competition would include the top 15 in the world rankings:

Tiger Woods, USA
Adam Scott, AUS
Phil Mickelson, USA
Henrik Stenson,  SWE
Justin Rose, ENG
Rory McIlroy, Olympic country not determined
Steve Stricker, USA
Matt Kuchar, USA
Brandt Snedeker, USA
Jason Dufner, USA
Zach Johnson, USA
Graeme McDowell, Ireland ( according to his recent statements)
Jim Furyk, USA
Luke Donald, ENG
Keegan Bradley, USA

After the top 15, 45 additional players would be selected based on the world ranking. Once there are two players from a country, there cannot be any more from that nation.  If played today, these men would be the 16th-60th competitors, listed by current world ranking and with country.

16  Jason Day, Australia
18  Charl Schwartzel, South Africa
19  Sergio Garcia, Spain
24  Ernie Els, South Africa
29  Hideki Matsuyama, Japan
31  Matteo Manassero, Italy
33  Graham DeLaet, Canada
36  Jonas Blixt, Sweden
38  Martin Kaymer, Germany
41  Jamie Donaldson, Wales
46  Miguel A. Jimenez, Spain
48  Thomas Bjorn, Denmark
49  Francesco Molinari, Italy
52  Thorbjorn Olesen, Denmark
53  Bernd Wiesberger, Austria
54  Angel Cabrera, Argentina
55  Nicolas Colsaerts, Belgium
56  Stephen Gallacher, Scotland
57  Joost Luiten, Netherlands
61  Thongchai Jaidee, Thailand
63  Martin Laird, Scotland
66  Brendon de Jonge, Zimbabwe
72  Shane Lowry, Ireland, depending on McIlroy's decision
74  Paul Lawrie, Scotland
78  Marcel Siem, Germany
79 Mikko Ilonen, Finland
86 Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Thailand
97 Park Sung-Joon, Korea
98 Koumei Oda, Japan
103 Victor Dubuisson, France
104  Kim Hyung-sung, Korea
126 Gregory Bourdy, France
130 David Hearn, Canada
136 Anders Hansen, Denmark
139 Vijay Singh, Fiji
145 Liang Wen-chong, China
151 Felipe Aguilar, Chile
160 Anirban Lahiri, India
186 Andres Romero, Argentina
187 Gaganjeet Bhullar, India
199 Daan Huizing, Netherlands
204 Ricardo Santos, Portugal
207 Michael Hendry, New Zealand
208 Andrea Pavan, Italy
214 Wu Ashun, China

 

Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America.

 

 

Tiger Woods, USA
Adam Scott, AUS
Phil Mickelson, USA
Henrik Stenson,  SWE
Justin Rose, ENG
Rory McIlroy, Olympic country not determined
Steve Stricker, USA
Matt Kuchar, USA
Brandt Snedeker, USA
Jason Dufner, USA
Zach Johnson, USA
Graeme McDowell, Ireland ( according to his recent statements)
Jim Furyk, USA
Luke Donald, ENG
Keegan Bradley, USA
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