It has been 112 years since golf was last included in the Olympics, but as early as now, some worry that the sport might not go beyond the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games and the 2020 Japan Games. Golf is off to a rocky start at the Olympics, and it might need a stronger boost from its star players.
Irish golfer Rory McIlroy said that the leading players were delighted that their efforts paid off and that golf was included in the Games. However, he hopes that these star golfers will follow through and ensure that the sport will be well-received in the Olympics.
Before he went on to defend his title at the Wells Fargo Championship, McIlroy spoke up and said, “If we don’t somehow change the narrative to get people more excited about it … I’m worried what will happen.”
Golf Making a Comeback in the Olympics After Over a Hundred Years
The last time golf was played in the Games was during the 1904 Summer Olympics, officially known as Games of the III Olympiad. Now it’s making a comeback after over a hundred years. The sport was awarded a spot in two Olympics last 2009 as a trial run. Seeing golf in the Olympics will help the sport grow in countries that otherwise might not produce professional golfers.
However, there have been worries that the sport may not be received well in the Games. Golf in the Olympics may need more than a number of leading golfers to draw the crowd’s attention. According to an article from HitYah, better schedules or a different golf format may help keep the sport in the Games. McIlroy shared that aside from the individual stroke-play format in the Olympics, what would be good to watch are team events or even mixed-team events with female golfers included. As of now, the International Olympic Committee has dismissed the idea due to various reasons.
Leading Golfers Opting Out of the Olympics
When the announcement came out, the leading golfers were initially thrilled. Most even promised the International Olympic Committee that the top golf players would take part in the Games. However, just a few months away from the Rio de Janeiro Games, a number of prominent players have withdrawn their participation, including major champions Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Vijay Singh.
After announcing his withdrawal from the Olympics, Adam Scott was criticised in his home country Australia. He said that he did not believe that an Olympic gold medal was as important for a golfer as for athletes who dedicate their entire training for the Games. However, there was an even bigger reason why he opted out of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. The fact that The Open, The WGC-Bridgestone Invitation, the PGA Championship and the Olympics will run over seven weeks on three continents.
According to Scott, “It was a very tough schedule. I just didn’t get to see my family enough. I think I’m seeing them six days in seven weeks, and it would have been six in nine weeks had I gone to the Olympics. Those are just the hard decisions you have to make. That’s the way it is, unfortunately, and that’s the event I decided to skip.”
Top Golfers in the Olympics
One of the biggest names in the world of competitive golf is Jason Day, and he intends to stay in the top spot by winning the Olympic gold medal. Despite learning about the news regarding leading golfers opting out of the Games, he is still determined to win the Olympics.
Even though he was not “overly excited” about the Olympics, McIlroy still recognised the significance of the Games. He said that it serves as a great venue for players, especially female golfers, to gain more exposure across the globe.
American golfer Rickie Fowler is another playing hoping to qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. He keeps relishing the thought of walking in the Games’ opening ceremonies.
The International Golf Federation listed the Olympic rankings of male golfers with Jason Day taking the number one spot, followed by Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson and Ricki Fowler, respectively. The 2016 Summer Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 5 to 21 August 2016.
Article by Alan Smithee