Olympic Golf Selection Process Excludes Many Countries

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Olympic Golf Selection Process Excludes Many Countries
Associated Press
Adam Scott, No. 1 in the world, would be at the top of the list for particpants in the Olympics if selections were made this week.

Finally, the International Golf Federation let the real cat out of the bag on who will be able to compete in the 2016 Olympics. It was done during British Open week, figuring it would get buried in other headlines.

Now comes the revelation that, no matter how far up a player is in the rankings, only the top four from any country can compete, if there are more than four in the top 15. If Australia had four in the top 15, all four could go. Today, it has two. The U.S. has eight in the top 15 this week, but only four would go if the selections were done now.

Also, no matter who you are, you no longer have two people from your country based on your high world ranking. It's starting at the top with No. 1 and taking only 60 players, with duplicate countries thrown out after two players from a country are selected. There's no "team."

A lot of things are wrong with what has been this Rubik's Cube of different formulas. However, what's completely ridiculous about it is that the method for choosing players is based on a flawed ranking system. Even more egregious, participants are not selected by individual countries.

Here's how this will work: A flawed, world-ranking system is going to tell the U.S. who to send to the Olympics.

Would U.S. Track and Field pick the 4x100-meter relay participants for the Olympic team based on an average speed of what someone ran for the last two years? Not on this planet. Well, guess what? That's exactly what's going to happen in golf.

Would Michael Phelps get a pass to compete in 2016 because of his Olympic record? No. He has to qualify. Golfers? Not so much.

If the flawed rankings and the non-country-determined teams were not enough, this method restricts, rather than promotes, the game by automatically eliminating countries who are not already golf powers. In other words, it's super exclusionary. Where's the chance for a surprise team or golfer from Kenya or Dubai or Iceland? It's nonexistent.

There was already a selection method that worked for golf, but the International Olympic Committee and International Golf Federation ignored it. It was originally called The Canada Cup, and it was started in the 1950s.

The old Canada Cup became The World Cup of Golf, which is not very much like today's World Cup. But the Canada Cup solved the problem of participation and quality of teams with international qualification matches. So more golf was played, promoting international play rather than restricting it.

If your country wanted to field a team and send it to the regional qualifying site, it could. It didn't matter what the players would shoot. If they couldn't break 100, it was OK. They were on their country's team. They played in Olympic qualifying. THAT is growing the game. That is creating a good field for the Olympics by playing golf.

In the old World Cup, a certain number of teams went from regional or sectional qualification and then on to the finals where, typically, between 30 and 50 teams played. Both a team and an individual competition were contested. Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer won the team division four times and so did Davis Love III and Fred Couples.

But that is not what the International Golf Federation decided to do. Instead, it decided to say countries can't participate because they don't have a golfer high enough in the world rankings. It's saying we don't want you, Uruguay. Return home, Russia. Not ready for prime time, Poland.

Unlike the 200 individual medley finals in swimming or the 4x100 relay track finals, it's not going to be a "competition of near equals," as Gary Van Sickle pointed out some time ago in an article for Sports Illustrated:

"The catch is, the fields aren't going to be made up of the best 60 players. A handful of players will come from the top of the rankings, a few from the middle, and, in the name of international diplomacy, a bunch from the bottom."

It's difficult to look at today's world rankings for the men and try to imagine what they will be two years from now. But looking at what the contestant make-up would be today gives an idea of the disparity from top to bottom.

If the Olympics were played this week, based on current world ranking, the U.S. team would be Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk. They are the four highest in the U.S., and they are all in the top 15. This week, the top player, Adam Scott, would be in, but the lowest-ranked competitor under the criteria is 296th, not 60th.

In addition for the U.S., if the Olympic selections were made this week, according to the International Golf Federation, the participants would be as listed below for the men and, separately, for the women (the current world rank is included for the last four male players):

This Week

Player

Country

1

Adam Scott

AUS

2

Rory McIlroy

IRL

3

Henrik Stenson

SWE

4

Justin Rose

GBR

5

Sergio Garcia

ESP

6

Bubba Watson

USA

7

Matt Kuchar

USA

8

Jason Day

AUS

9

Tiger Woods

USA

10

Jim Furyk

USA

11

Martin Kaymer

GER

12

Hideki Matsuyama

JPN

13

Graeme McDowell

IRL

14

Luke Donald

GBR

15

Victor Dubuisson

FRA

16

Thomas Bjorn

DEN

17

Charl Schwartzel

RSA

18

Miguel Jimenez

ESP

19

Thongchai Jaidee

THA

20

Graham DeLaet

CAN

21

Jonas Blixt

SWE

22

Francesco Molinari

ITA

23

Joost Luiten

NED

24

Mikko Ilonen

FIN

25

Louis Oosthuizen

RSA

26

Angel Cabrera

ARG

27

Koumei Oda

JPN

28

Bernd Wiesberger

AUT

29

Matteo Manassero

ITA

30

K.J. Choi

KOR

31

Brendon de Jonge

ZIM

32

Anirban Lahiri

IND

33

Hyung-Sung Kim

KOR

34

Thorbjorn Olesen

DEN

35

Fabrizio Zanotti

PAR

36

David Hearn

CAN

37

Kiradech Aphibarnrat

THA

38

Alexander Levy

FRA

39

Marcel Siem

GER

40

Felipe Aguilar

CHI

41

Emiliano Grillo

ARG

42

Nicolas Colsaerts

BEL

43

Mohd Rahman

BAN

44

Shiv Kapur

IND

45

Carlos Ortiz

MEX

46

WC Liang

CHN

47

Robert-Jan Derksen

NED

48

Wu Ashun

CHN

49

Vijay Singh

FIJ

50

Camilo Villegas

COL

51

Danny Lee

NZL

52

Tim Wilkinson

NZL

53

Chan Shih-chang

TPE

54

Antonio Lascuna

PHI

55

Adilson da Silva

BRA

56

Juvic Pagunsan

PHI

57

Jhonattan Vegas No. 286

VEN

58

Roope Kakko No. 287

FIN

59

Ricardo Santos No. 296

POR

60

Thomas Pieters No. 290

BEL

 

 

Rank

Name

Country

1

Stacy Lewis

USA

2

Lydia Ko

NZL

3

Inbee Park

KOR

4

Suzann Pettersen

NOR

5

Lexi Thompson

USA

6

Michelle Wie

USA

7

Karrie Webb

AUS

8

Shanshan Feng

CHN

9

So Yeon Ryu

KOR

10

Anna Nordqvist

SWE

11

Cristie Kerr

USA

12

Amy Yang

KOR

13

Catriona Matthew

GBR

14

Azahara Munoz

ESP

15

Pornanong Phatlum

THA

16

Charley Hull

GBR

17

Karine Icher

FRA

18

Caroline Hedwall

SWE

19

Beatriz Recari

ESP

20

Sakura Yokomine

JPN

21

Ariya Jutanugarn

THA

22

Teresa Lu

TPE

23

Rikako Morita

JPN

24

Sandra Gal

GER

25

Julieta Granada

PAR

26

Yani Tseng

TPE

27

Lee-Anne Pace

RSA

28

Caroline Masson

GER

29

Gwladys Nocera

FRA

30

Minjee Lee

AUS

31

Stephanie Meadow

IRL

32

Line Vedel Hansen

DEN

33

Giulia Sergas

ITA

34

Alison Shepard

IRL

35

Christel Boeljon

NED

36

Mariajo Uribe

COL

37

Dewi Claire Schreefel

NED

38

Malene Jorgensen

DEN

39

Ashleigh Simon

RSA

40

Diana Luna

ITA

41

Xiyu Lin

CHN

42

Jennifer Rosales

PHI

43

Brooke M. Henderson

CAN

44

Klara Spilkova

CZE

45

Alena Sharp

CAN

46

Alejandra Llaneza

MEX

47

Paola Moreno

COL

48

Paz Echeverria

CHI

49

Maria Balikoeva

RUS

50

Marianne Skarpnord

NOR

51

Minea Blomqvist

FIN

52

Noora Tamminen

FIN

53

Kelly Tan

MAS

54

Veronica Felibert

VEN

55

Chloe Leurquin

BEL

56

Cathryn Bristow

NZL

57

Margarita Ramos

MEX

58

Gauri Monga

IND

59

Fabienne In-Albon

SUI

60

Mia Piccio

PHI 

 

 

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, R&A or PGA of America.

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