John Renslow: A chance at the global stage
The world is getting smaller. Or at least we can see more of it at the same time.
Last week the gathering was 60 men representing 35 countries. Austria, Belgium, Chili, Columbia, the Czech Republic and many more would head for the 1st Tee at Kasumigaseki Country Club near Tokyo, Japan, for the 2020 Olympic Games. Back to that in a moment.
This week, we have 60 women, also representing 35 countries. At the time of this writing, Rolex World No. 1 Ranked American, Nelly Korda, is leading by three strokes going into the final round.
A unique story on the ladies’ side is Aditi Ashok — how the 200th ranked female player could become a household name.
On one side, reality is that the collection of Olympic golfers is not the strongest possible field. Here is a brief example of how this plays out. For the men, on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), eight of the top 10 are from the USA. Yet, each country is limited to four total entries.
Only four of these American men can represent their country in these Olympic Games. Which, in turn means that four of the top-10 players (40% is a significant number) in the world cannot participate. (Also, Bryson DeChambeau (No. 6 OGWR) and, Jon Rahm of Spain (No. 1 OWGR), were out due to positive COVID-19 tests, while Dustin Johnson (No. 2 OGWR) opted out).
Don’t misunderstand, it’s a strong field, but it’s not like a Major with every top ranked player heading to the same site.
However, this is when a “not so great thing” about golf in the Olympics becomes one of the great things about golf in the Olympics. There are fabulous, wonderful players around the world who don’t have the same opportunity to compete with the elite players on a regular basis. Traveling the globe isn’t cheap and gaining access to Tour events isn’t easy.
Staying on Tour is a lot easier than getting on Tour.
So, for players such as Aditi Ashok, this is one well funded, prolific chance to show your stuff. She is doing just that. After three rounds, Aditi is in great shape for a silver medal. Paired with Nelly Korda, the Rolex Women’s No. 1 Ranked player, Ashok gained on shot on the leader with a three-under score of 68.
With one round to go (although there is a certain amount of anxiety over weather) the 200th ranked player in the world from Bengaluru, India, with her mother on the bag, could make a name for herself.
Let’s return to the men’s competition for another situation unique to the Games. “Nobody remembers second place.” We’ve all heard it and generally it’s true. Not in the Olympics, where third place can get you some hardware.
A playoff for the win happens fairly frequently. But, you just don’t see a playoff for the third spot. So, if we’re going to do it, do it right. Seven, count them, seven players moseyed over to tee it up to earn a medals. A few holes later, CT Pan, of Taiwan, took home the bronze.
It’s not a Major and the performance won’t move one up the money list. But the Games have been around thousands of years and provides every participant a chance to knock on door or even burst through a global one.
John Renslow is a PGA professional, VP of Yugi Golf Management, and provides golf instruction at local courses
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