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The Loop

Is golf's Olympic effort built on a false premise?

June 11, 2009

Lawrence Donegan of the Guardian takes on the issue of Olympic golf in his new blog and takes issue with the premise that golf will deliver the world's best players in its 60-man and 60-woman fields.

"This, frankly, is fantasy," Donegan writes. "The field at 2016 Olympic men's golf tournament, if it ever happens, will compromise the world's top 15 players at the time (if they want to play, which is not guaranteed), plus 45 players made up of the remaining highest-ranked players whose countries don't already have two players in the field.

"Working off the latest world rankings, that means Great Britain and Northern Ireland would be represented by Paul Casey (no3) and Rory McIlroy (no17). Not in the team would be Ian Poulter (18), Luke Donald (21), Ross Fisher (29), Justin Rose (42), Oliver Wilson (46) and Graeme McDowell (48) - all of them amongst the top 60 players in the world.

"And don't get me started on the American, South African, Spanish and Australian players who are in the top-60 yet who would not be eligible to represent their country."

Points well taken, maybe foremost among them that the top 15 players in the world might not want to play. To that, my own question is this: Has anyone told the game's elite (a faction of which has been recruited to promote golf in the Olympics) that they wouldn't be getting paid for their participation? This is a group that largely is reluctant to leave home without an assurance there is a large check awaiting them for agreeing to do so. Recall the flap U.S. players created over the issue of Ryder Cup compensation back in 1999, for instance.

-- John Strege