Golf’s return to the Olympics is almost upon us. For the first time in 112 years, six world class golfers will be the proud new owners of an Olympic medal by the end of the games. And for the gold medallist, a place in the Major Championships also lies in wait.
The new Olympic golf course at the Reserva de Marapendi will welcome 120 men and women golfers to compete for those medals over four days of stroke play competition for each event.
Champion Golfer of the Year Henrik Stenson, a proud Swede, dedicated his win at The Open to his country as he became its first Major champion. In the form of his life, the 40-year-old is the highest-ranked player in the men’s field and is a serious contender for gold.
Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler will proudly compete for Team USA. Watson has already unveiled his patriotic footwear, a pair of red, white and blue high-top golf shoes emblazoned with the stars and stripes of the American flag. His teammate Fowler, known for his own bold fashion style on the golf course, will be competing with Watson for best outfit as well as a shot at Olympic glory.
Masters champion Danny Willett will play a key role for Team GB. Willett became the first British player to win at Augusta National for 20 years. He will play alongside friend and former US Open champion Justin Rose as Great Britain attempt to surpass their record medal haul from London 2012.
Willett is determined to build on his maiden Major victory, and the prospect of adding an Olympic medal to his green jacket will no doubt inspire the Englishman when the men’s competition gets underway on August 10th.
The women’s event gets underway the following week on August 17th. For the world’s best female golfers, the Olympics is a chance to showcase the women’s game on a global stage.
New Zealand’s Lydia Ko is the highest-ranked player in the women’s field at only 19-years-old. The world number 1 is one of the favourites to win the gold medal. Having already established herself in the sport with two major wins (Evian Championship in 2015 and ANA Inspiration 2016) and amassing more than $10million in career earnings, Olympic glory will be a huge motivation for Ko.
But she will have to battle it out with Canada’s Brooke Henderson - another golfer who won her first Major in her teens. The 18-year-old won the Women’s PGA Championship earlier this year and will be among those with high expectations in Rio.
Former world number one Inbee Park will lead South Korean hopes at the game. The 28-year-old has an astonishing seven majors under her belt having been the youngest player to win the US Women’s Open at the age of 19 (2008).21-year-old American Lexi Thomson is the fourth highest-ranked player in the women’s event. Despite her youth, Thomson has a wealth of experience of playing with the world’s best after turning professional aged just 15. Thomson will represent Team USA alongside Stacey Lewis, and will be hoping to leave Rio proudly wearing a medal.