POSTED: January 21st 2012

SCANLON: Rio 2016 golf qualifications will be based on world rankings

Who will come to the new golf course in Rio de Janeiro / SFC
Who will come to the new golf course in Rio de Janeiro / SFC

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

TAMPA/LAUSANNE: One other key part of the staging of the first golf competitions at Rio 2016 will be the qualifications to compete at the Olympics. sat down with International Golf Federation (IGF) Executive Director Antony Scanlon to discuss in this series also how the world’s top players will make their way to the Rio course.

Hope will the players qualify to play in the Olympic Games?  

ANTONY SCANLON: Well the interesting thing is who will it be? The qualifying will be based upon the world rankings. And it is not finalized, and no sport’s qualification system is finalized for the 2016 Olympics until three years out of the Games and it is the Executive Board of the IOC that ratifies that qualification system. However what was presented to the membership during our bid in Copenhagen in 2009 was that we were limited to 60 players.

Which is a very small and elite field and I think the Masters is about 70-80 players so that leaves 60 for us. Now that limits the opportunity, so how do we designate who comes?

By using the world rankings, we see that as the fairest way to see who competes. The cut off is still to be finalized. For 2016 we will have all the Majors finished prior to the Games competition.

Traditionally if we were to take tennis as a model, I think they finalize about a month out of the Games and that may have us not including the PGA. We are still finalizing the week that the PGA championship will be held.

So what will be the exact limit of players and how will they be divided between men and women?

ANTONY SCANLON: So there will be 60 men and 60 women, 120 players total. So for both it is the same qualifications system, it is based on world rankings, at this stage we have said that the top 15 of the world would qualify. However if you look at the Olympic Charter there is a limit on how many can compete per country in any event. I think that for tennis it has a limit of four, so we would see that the IOC would ask us to modify that to a limit to four.

So of those in the top 15 there would have to be a limit of 4 per country, and above that again the world rankings with a maximum of 2 per country will qualify to get us to the 60.

So with both the men and women that would have us with about 30 countries that would qualify. But again we have to remember that the IOC has insisted that we had the top athletes there so this is the reason why we are using the world rankings. It is seen across the sport as the way to see who the top players are.

Also it is professional golfers, not amateur golfers. The Olympics has been professional since 1992 and there are still a lot of people who are traditionalists that still think that the Games are about amateurs. But now it is attracting the best players, the best ones in ice hockey and basketball are professional and they play.

This gets us to the top 60, and who will play, well who knows. If you were to say to me 2 years ago that Tiger Woods would be out of the top 60, or the top 50 and if you were to say to me that Luke Donald would be number one? I think at some stage this year we have had 8 European Tour players in the top 10. Golf is changing it is becoming very culturally diverse and it is being reflected in the world rankings for both the men and the women.

So what is golf’s future on the Olympic program?

ANTONY SCANLON:  We’re in the 2016 and 2020 Games and the next election for the program that we would have to participate in again will be in 2017. So really we have 2016 to do this right and everybody in golf understands this is their one shot. 

 Part III of a multiple part series

Keywords · Antony Scanlon · IGF · golf · tourism · Tiger Woods · Rio 2016 · Luke Donald

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