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USA Today via Reuters

USA Today via Reuters

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  Debate

Debate

Is Olympic golf a true measure of greatness or just a glorified exhibition?

The stage is set for the ultimate golf showdown in Paris! The 2024 Paris Olympics will witness 60 of the world’s top golfers, including eight from the top 10. The coveted competition will feature golf for the fifth time since 1904. There is something special about this tournament that sets it apart from the rest. 

While there are many professional golf tournaments, the Olympics holds distinct characteristics that push golfers to their limits and leave fans on the edge of their seats. Golf enthusiasts wonder: what sets Olympic golf apart from other tour events? The answer lies in its guidelines. But before the world’s best professionals excite fans with the Olympic thrill, let’s explore the rules and format that make Olympic golf a standout event in the world of professional golf.

Unpacking the Olympic golf tournament format and rules

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Olympic golf promises a unique blend of tradition and innovation, seamlessly merging elements from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to create a riveting spectacle. Utilizing the familiar stroke play format, Olympic golf can be compared to the PGA Tour while introducing its distinct twists. Unlike the PGA Tour, which features a mid-tournament cut, the Olympic format ensures that all 60 players in the men’s and women’s fields advance through all four rounds.

Poll of the day

Is Olympic golf more exciting than regular tour events?

Absolutely

Not at all

Depends on the players

I don't care

This approach aligns more closely with LIV Golf with 18 more holes, maintaining the excitement and competition right to the very end. Although the four-day format may pose a challenge for LIV golfers who have qualified for the Olympics since they are not that used to playing four days every weekend, recent performances by Bryson DeChambeau in the US Open demonstrate that anything is possible. As a result, spectators can enjoy a continuous showcase of talent without the disappointment of seeing their favorite players eliminated midway through the competition.

The competition unfolds over four days, with each day featuring an 18-hole round. The ultimate victor is the player with the lowest aggregate score after 72 holes. Imagine the pressure and precision required to maintain consistency across four consecutive days; it’s a true test of skill, endurance, and mental fortitude. In cases of ties, particularly when determining the silver and bronze medalists, the tournament employs a sudden-death playoff. This playoff not only heightens the drama but ensures a definitive resolution, leaving no ambiguity about who earns the coveted medals.

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In the thrilling showdown at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Rory McIlroy, with a 15 under par, was part of a seven-man playoff for the bronze medal. He competed against formidable opponents like Collin Morikawa, Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama, Sebastian Muñoz, CT Pan, and Mito Pereira. The playoff was intense, and ultimately, CT Pan from Chinese Taipei emerged victorious. He clinched the bronze medal after four extra holes, leaving McIlroy just short of the podium.

“I’ve never tried so hard in my life to finish in third place,” said the Northern Irishman in a presser later. Olympic golf combines the PGA Tour’s structure with LIV Golf’s inclusiveness. That makes it an arena where endurance meets excitement, where every stroke counts, and where the quest for gold, silver, and bronze medals brings out the very best in the world’s top golfers. Now, let us analyze how golfers from around the world earn their spot in the Olympic field.

How do golfers from different nations qualify for the Olympics?

The host nation, France, gets two guaranteed spots, one for each gender. For the rest, it is the Olympic Golf Rankings (OGR), the gateway to the Olympics for golfers worldwide. It is a system that awards points based on a player’s position in the tournaments over a two-year “rolling” period. The top 15 Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) golfers secure their spot, with a maximum of four players per country. 

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This year, the United States is the only country to have qualified four players for the Olympics, including the world’s top seven players, such as World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, defending Olympic gold medalist Xander Schauffele, Wyndham Clark, and Collin Morikawa. But that’s not all—beyond the top 15, golfers can qualify based on OWGR points, with a limit of two participants per country. 

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The OGR is updated weekly, tracking golfer eligibility. The IGF releases the latest rankings every Tuesday, showing who’s in contention for Olympic spots. If a golfer drops out or doesn’t meet the eligibility criteria, their spot goes to the next eligible player.

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Additionally, each of the 5 Olympic continents (Africa, America, Asia, Europe, and Oceania) will have at least 1 male and 1 female golfer in the tournament, even if they aren’t ranked high enough. This approach ensures representation from around the world. For the 2024 Paris Olympics, the men’s qualification period ended on June 17, while the women’s qualification period concluded on June 24. The final field for the women’s competition will be announced on July 9, 2024.

What are your thoughts on the rules and regulations governing Olympic golf? And how will your favorite golfer perform in the coveted 2024 Paris Olympics? Share what you think in the comments section below.