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5D AGO

Final countdown: Canada’s Olympic horserace among top storylines to follow at Pinehurst

3 Min Read

Olympic Golf

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    Written by Adam Stanley @Adam_Stanley

    It’s a major week within a major week in men’s professional golf.

    Yes, it’s the U.S. Open at an iconic venue in Pinehurst No. 2 with the third major championship on the men’s side up for grabs. Storylines abound.

    But a tidy bow will be tied on one of the biggest ones come Sunday night: Who will qualify for the Paris Olympics’ men’s golf competition. This week is the final week to earn Official World Golf Ranking Points, and some of the best players in the world are still jockeying for position.

    One of those who don’t have to worry about anything is world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, who said he “definitely” wanted to be part of Team USA in a few weeks.

    “It’d be a nice little thing to be able to trash talk my buddies about when they say golfers aren’t athletes, and I can claim I’m an Olympian,” Scheffler said at the PGA Championship last month.

    Scheffler is on top of the American standings with this week yet to unfold.

    Team USA will be the only team that will send four golfers to Paris on the men’s side (teams can send up to four if they have multiple golfers ranked inside the top 15 in the world) with Scheffler, Xander Schauffele (No. 2), Wyndham Clark (No. 4) and Collin Morikawa (No. 7) as the qualifiers heading into Pinehurst. Patrick Cantlay (No. 9) and Max Homa (No. 10) are nipping at Morikawa’s heels, as he is No. 7 in the world.


    IGF Executive Director Antony Scanlon on Golf at the Olympics | TOTT


    Schauffele is the reigning gold medalist, and his win at the PGA Championship all but secured him a spot on the team. For someone like Homa who is on the outside-looking-in, he didn’t realize how important earning a spot in the Olympics would be until he became thisclose.

    “As a golfer, I don’t think the Olympics ever feels like a real thing we’re going to do,” Homa said at the PGA Championship, “and then you get a chance, and now I would really like to be a part of that.”

    With just one event left on the men’s schedule before the Olympic qualifier cut-off, here are some races to keep an eye on this week at Pinehurst No. 2.

    Spain comes down to the wire

    With Jon Rahm already long locked up the first spot for Spain, it’s down to the wire for the second spot – in the tightest race of any on the men’s side. Jorge Campillo at No. 116 in the world jumped David Puig (at No. 117) last week, but Puig is in the field at Pinehurst and Campillo is not. If Puig finds the weekend, that should just about do it.

    Canadians in dead heat for final two spots

    The race for Canada’s two spots has come to the wire. Nick Taylor has long held onto one of the spots and sits No. 32 in the world. Adam Hadwin made a hearty leap by finishing solo third last week at the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday and is now No. 35 in the world – holding onto the second spot. But Corey Conners (No. 46), Taylor Pendrith (No. 65), Mackenzie Hughes (No. 66) and even Adam Svensson (No. 89) could make things interesting with another big finish at the U.S. Open.

    Great Britain's race tightens

    Tommy Fleetwood at No. 13 and Matt Fitzpatrick at No. 16 seemingly have strongholds on the two spots for Great Britain, but Robert MacIntyre (No. 41) and former Olympic medalist Justin Rose (No. 58) are breathing down their necks. Like the Canadian contingent, a massive result from either MacIntyre – who broke through for his first PGA Tour title at the RBC Canadian Open two weeks ago – or Rose – the U.S. Open winner at Merion in 2013 – could change the tide.

    South Koreans go neck and neck

    From a whole-team perspective, there might not be a tighter race. Tom Kim (No. 22) and Byeong Hun An (No. 23) currently have their spots sewed up, but Sungjae Im at No. 30 and Si Woo Kim at No. 45 could make an impressive leap with a good result at Pinehurst.

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