Tokyo Olympics Golf: All You Need to Know

Tokyo Olympic Rings
Photo by Ryunosuke Kikuno on Unsplash

For the fourth time in Olympic history, golf will be in the Olympics in Tokyo after making a comeback in Rio for the first time since 1904. But Olympic Golf is not like the majors or a normal tour event, so here is everything you need to know about the golf events in Tokyo at this year’s Summer Olympic Games.

What is the format of golf in the Olympics?

Both men’s and women’s golf tournaments are 72-hole individual stroke play events taking place over four rounds. Unlike PGA events, there will be no halfway eliminations or cuts, so all 60 players will play the full four rounds. For the final two rounds, the tee times will be determined by the scoreboard, going out in reverse order. If players are tied for a medal position after the 72 holes, there will be a three-hole playoff. If there is still a tie after the three-hole playoff, it will go to sudden death.

How did the golfers qualify for the Olympics?

Qualification is made through the Olympic Golf Rankings, a system that is essentially the same as the Official World Golf Ranking for men and the Rolex Rankings for women. How players perform at tournaments determines their Olympic Golf Ranking.

There will be 60 contestants for both the men’s and women’s competitions. The first 15 players in the rankings for each side qualify for the tournament unless a country has more than four players ranked in the top 15. No country is allowed to have more than four players represented at the event.

After the top 15, the field will be filled by going down the Olympic Golf Ranking until there are 60 qualified players, with no country allowed to have more than two golfers outside of the top 15 to qualify. If a country already has two players in the top 15, then they are not allowed any more players. Some countries only have one per field such as New Zealand.

Japan was guaranteed to get at least two players, regardless of their ranking, since it is the host of the Olympics.

Who has qualified for New Zealand?

Ryan Fox is the only player that qualified for the men’s competition after Danny Lee pulled out of the running so he could concentrate on his PGA Tour card.

In the women’s Lydia Ko is the only Kiwi and she will be ranked 10th.

lydia Ko Rio 2016 Olympics
Lydia Ko during the Women’s Golf Final on Day 15 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Golf Course on August 20, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Which countries have the most representatives?

At the time when the Olympic rankings were finalized, the United States was dominating the men’s World Golf Rankings with eight consecutive golfers sitting behind Spain’s No. 1-ranked Jon Rahm. Four of those golfers — Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed — will not be joining fellow Americans Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele and Bryson DeChambeau in Tokyo as each country is allowed a maximum of just four golfers.

South Korea and the U.S. are among the top contenders in women’s golf. The U.S. has three of the top 10 ranked golfers heading to the Olympics, with Nelly Korda entering the Olympics ranked No. 1. Fellow Americans Danielle Kang and Lexi Thompson are No. 5 and No. 9, respectively. South Korea has four of the top 10 ranked golfers heading to Tokyo. Jin Young Ko, In Bee Park and Sei Young Kim are Nos. 2, 3 and 4, respectively, and Hyo-Joo Kim is ranked No. 6.

When will the men’s and women’s Olympic golf tournaments take place?

The Olympic men’s golf tournament will be four straight days of golf, starting on July 29 and concluding on Aug. 1. The women begin play on Aug. 4 and continue for four days until Aug. 7.

Where will the men’s and women’s golf Olympic tournaments take place?

Both the men’s and the women’s tournaments at the Tokyo Olympics will take place at the East Course of the Kasumigaseki Country Club, a private club in Saitama that is about 70km northwest of the Athletes Village in downtown Tokyo. The course has been around since 1929, and was lengthened in 2016 to make it more difficult for the best players in the world.

What big golfing names will not be in Tokyo?

Not all of the top golfers are competing at the 2020 Olympics. In addition to Dustin Johnson opting out for the men, South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, Germany’s Martin Kaymer and Spain’s Sergio Garcia, who are all golf major champions, will not be competing at the Olympics. Other top-ranked golfers like Great Britain’s Tyrrell Hadley, Lee Westwood and Matthew Fitzpatrick all opted out of the Olympics as well. For the women, Great Britain’s Charley Hull is the biggest name who decided not to compete in the Olympics.

Who are the reigning Olympic Champions?

2016 Men’s: Gold – Justin Rose (Great Britain), Silver – Henrik Stenson (Sweden), Bronze – Matt Kuchar (USA)

2016 Women’s: Gold – Inbee Park (Korea), Silver – Lydia Ko (New Zealand), Bronze – Shanshan Feng (China)

What countries have won the most medals in Golf at the Olympic Games?

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 United States 3 3 5 11
2 Great Britain 1 1 1 3
3 Canada 1 0 0 1
South Korea 1 0 0 1
5 New Zealand 0 1 0 1
Sweden 0 1 0 1
7 China 0 0 1 1
Totals (7 nations) 6 6 7 19

Where can you watch the Olympics?

Sky Sport will have 12 channels of Olympic Games coverage plus you can catch up on key highlights, New Zealand team moments and daily recaps via Sky Go or Sky Sport Now. You can also access every moment live with the Sky Olympic Video Player which is available to all Sky Sport and Sky Sport Now subscribers.

TVNZ will feature 12 hours of free-to-air action each afternoon and evening. There will be live, delayed and replayed curated coverage with a focus on New Zealand athletes (hopefully Ko and Fox).

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