The First Look: Olympic Games
July 25, 2021
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
Kasumigaseki Country Club (East Course)
The Tokyo Olympics are underway after a one-year delay, with the golf competition making its second consecutive appearance in the Games. Golf made its Olympic return in 2016 after a 112-year absence.
FIELD NOTES: The United States is the only country that had four players qualify for the 60-man field. The American contingent includes this year’s PLAYERS champion, Justin Thomas, and The Open champion, Collin Morikawa. With Xander Schauffele also on the squad, Team USA features three of the top five players in the Official World Golf Ranking. Morikawa leads the FedExCup standings, while Thomas and Schauffele also sit inside the top 10. Patrick Reed was added to the team after Bryson DeChambeau tested positive for COVID-19, making Reed the only American to play in both the 2016 (T11) and 2021 Games… Two-time FedExCup champion Rory McIlory is heading to Tokyo to represent Ireland alongside 2019 Open Championship winner Shane Lowry… South Korea’s Sungaje Im and Si Woo Kim both withdrew from the Open Championship, citing their desire to have extra time to prepare for the Games… Great Britain will be represented by Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood as they look to match countryman Justin Rose’s gold-medal winning performance from 2016. … Australia is represented by the same pair that teamed up to win this year’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith.
COURSE: Kasumigaseki Country Club (East Course), par 71, 7,447 yards. Founded in the 1920s, this private golf course about an hour from Tokyo’s downtown area first hosted the Canada Cup (now the World Cup of Golf) in 1957. Most recently it hosted the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in 2010, and the East Course was re-designed by Tom and Logan Fazio in 2016 to ready it for the Olympics. Players will be challenged by prominent lakes, bunkers, and tree-lined fairways and the Fazio redesign both reflected the original work of C.H. Alison while also adding undulations to the fairways, added size to the greens, and increased the size and depth of the bunkers. Precise iron play will be key.
STORYLINES: All eyes will be on Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama. The reigning Masters champion will try to pair a gold medal with his Green Jacket. He won the 2010 Asia-Pacific Amateur on Kasumigaseki’s West Course to earn his first Masters invitation. … The first Olympic golf competition took place in 1904, with Canadian George S. Lyon claiming gold. This year, Canada will be represented by former Kent State teammates Corey Conners and Mackenzie Hughes, both of whom are coming off top-15 finishes in The Open… None of the three medalists from 2016 – Rose, Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar -- qualified for this year’s field… Three of the four major champions from 2021 are in the Olympic field, with Phil Mickelson (PGA Championship) the lone exception… Rory McIroy and Justin Thomas are looking to match Justin Rose as gold medalists who are also FedExCup champions… The men’s competition starts at 6:30 p.m. EST on Wednesday, July 28, and runs for the next four days. It will be a 72-hole stroke play event with no cut. The top three finishers on the leaderboard will win medals.
72-HOLE RECORD: 268, Justin Rose (Great Britain, 2016)
18-HOLE RECORD: 63, Marcus Fraser (Australia, First Round, 2016), Matt Kuchar (United States, Final Round, 2016).
LAST TIME: Great Britain’s Justin Rose stayed steady throughout the four rounds of Olympic competition – his effort highlighted by a Saturday 65 – and he sat tied with Henrik Stenson at 15 under heading into the final hole of competition. His approach landed less than 3 feet from the hole and, after a Stenson three-putt bogey, Rose was the gold medalist. American Matt Kuchar entered the final round tied for seventh, but his closing 63 (which matched the round of the tournament) moved him all the way into the bronze-medal position. Kuchar, Stenson, and Rose were the only three golfers to get to double-digits under par for the competition.
HOW TO FOLLOW (All times ET)
Television: Wednesday-Saturday, 6:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel).