PGAs of EuropeOlympics – PGAs of Europe http://www.pgae.com Home of the PGAE Thu, 23 Nov 2017 23:35:13 +0000 en-gb hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9 Olympic Coaches – Stefan Gort & Fabienne In-Albon http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/olympic-coaches-stefan-gort-fabienne-in-albon/ Tue, 23 Aug 2016 07:49:39 +0000 PGAs of Europe http://www.pgae.com/?p=15263 Our Olympic Coach Q&A shines a spotlight on Switzerland's Potential Olympic Qualifier, Fabienne In-Albon, and her coach Stefan Gort...]]>

PGA of Switzerland Professional, Stefan Gort, and Ladies European Tour Member, Fabienne In-Albon, began working together in 1998 when Fabienne was part of the first regional squad and then a member of the  Swiss Sports Gymnasium Golf-Team Davos. Since then the pair have worked on and off together forming a team of practitioners around Fabienne that have helped her through the ups and downs of her career.

As Switzerland’s only current potential Olympic Qualifier, Fabienne is not getting ahead of herself and is working to play well in the lead up to the qualification cut-off, and is working with Stefan to ensure the distractions and potential pressures around playing at the Olympics do not interfere with her plans and preparations.

Fabienne In-Albon

@FabienneInAlbon

Stefan Gort

Country: Switzerland Switzerland :Country
Turned Professional: 2012 Switzerland :PGA of
Tournament Wins: 0 19 :Years Coaching

 

PGA PROFESSIONAL COACH: STEFAN GORT

Explain a bit about how you began working with your athlete and when that was.

SG: I started with Fabienne in 1998 when she was part of first the regional squad and then a member of the Golf-Team of the Swiss Sports Gymnasium in Davos.

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What are the key things you are going to work on to prepare your athlete for the Olympic Games?

SG: Physically and technically, there is for me no difference to any other Tournament on the LET. And yes, there are a couple of things one needs to take care of. First is always the question of general weather in that country, than grass types and along with this, the golf course. So at the end it could mean looking at a variety of different shots that the golf course demands…[along with] course management as always.

Much more important is to realise that golf has not been part of the Olympics forever. So everyone will be excited and wants to do well. Everyone will be overwhelmed by the opening ceremony, the Olympic village and so on. We need to know that we can’t fight these impressions and we should not. It will be a great experience for all.

We have to be aware that all these impressions will distract us from normal activities. Knowing that, we are one step further and can deal with them. We will be part of the opening ceremony, then will leave Rio for a week or so to practice away from all the madness and come back for the tournament and deal with it as with any other event.

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Have you changed anything technically or even just operationally with your athlete to help prepare or to aid their qualification hopes?

SG: Not really. Generally speaking, a player should leave for the Olympics well rested and prepared. Knowing there are may new impressions, the Olympic Games drain more energy. Technically we will follow our plan no matter what tournament is coming up. Other than some special shot practice per event if needed.

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What advice will you be giving them about competing on a wider global stage than perhaps ever before with an approximate 3.6billion viewers across the world?

SG: We cannot fight thoughts, surroundings or impressions. We have to accept them and deal with them. As I always say: ‘Say welcome to the funny or strange thoughts or impression in your mind, welcome them to your world and make it your friend. Don’t fight the thought; it will only become stronger. The more you accept new situations, the easier it is to accept and to deal with it.’

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How will you stay in touch with your athlete during the Olympic Games?

SG: Depend if I will travel with or not. More likely it will be the caddie and not me as mentor and coach. But that is Fabienne’s own decision.

If I should not be at the Olympics, than WhatsApp, e-mail and Video-Calls will help to talk and solve potential problems.

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What does it mean to you to be working with a potential Olympic qualifier?

SG: For us it’s like writing history. Golf will finally be a part of it. Every player that will qualify has his/her own little piece they can do to contribute and make golf a better game.

Fabienne for now is the only Swiss qualifier on the list and hopefully she will qualify. So no matter what, she will rewrite some part of golf for Switzerland and naturally for her own career. Other than playing great at the Olympics myself, how much better can it get!?

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How do you work with your athlete on a day-to-day basis?

SG: I’ve been her mentor and technical coach for over 14 years on and off, but I am outside the ropes so we do not meet very frequently. We have a great team and everyone knows his/her part very well. We all communicate a lot to serve Fabienne in the best way.

The only thing that counts is to make Fabienne better and to get her closer to her dreams. There is no selfishness in the team or arrogance. Everyone serves for that one purpose. That is awesome!

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OLYMPIC ATHLETE: FABIENNE IN-ALBON

What does the prospect of being able to represent your country and make history at the Olympic Games mean to you?

FIA: It would mean a lot to me. The Olympic Games is the biggest sporting event in the world and therefore will mean everything to most athletes.

For me it goes back to when I was a young girl.  I was always watching the Olympics (mainly the Winter Olympics) and I always said “One day I will be competing there” of course at that stage I had no idea in what sport, but it was a dream.  And as soon as Golf became an Olympic Sport again it was clear to me that now I want to turn this dream into a goal and then into reality.

So I am very close now but I need to keep focusing on my job and do the best I can each week in order to be able to represent my country in the Olympic Games, as there’s still a long way to go.

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What makes your relationship with your coach a success and a benefit to your game?

FIA: My whole team of coaches is fantastic. I’ve got great people around me, people who all want the same…helping me become a better player.  I think this is our recipe to being successful – that we all have the same goal, we are all on the same page and communication is a big part in our team.  I know I can call any of my coaches at any time and they are always there for me.

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How important have they been in your existing/current development as an athlete?

FIA: They have all been very important. Without my Team I wouldn’t be where I am right now. In my entire career I’ve experienced a lot of up and downs, I had to deal with a lot of injuries, illnesses, etc, but my Team was always there, they’ve been going through tough times with me but they are still here.

I always say ‘it’s easy for a team to work well if you are successful, but it really shows how good a team is when you are going through tough times.’ And we have been through tough times, but we have always managed to stand up again – every single time – and this is only possible if as an athlete you are having such good people around you and by your side.

I am very proud to be working with such experts but also such amazing people who always helped me to stand back up when we had to deal with another setback. Some have been there from the very beginning, some have joined the Team somewhere on the way, but I am very proud to have all those amazing people by my side.

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How are they going to help you prepare for the Olympics?

FIA: Of course each coach has his individual area that they need to take care of, so technical, mental, physical side etc. So we are working very hard in all those areas so that I am able to perform at my best.

But at the same time they are also helping me to not put my focus towards the Olympics that much. Yes of course it’s a big event, it’s THE Event, but we have to try and see it as just another tournament, and even though this will not completely work out, my Team is helping me to prepare for it the same way as I would prepare for any other event as well.  I think that approach is very good, because I am not qualified yet and so I have to perform well at all the tournaments coming up meaning I can’t only focus on the Olympics, and I have to perform well beforehand as well.

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What are you most looking forward to about potentially competing in the Olympics?

FIA: I mean competing at the Olympics would mean a lot to me – representing your country in such an event is something that you can’t describe. But because I am not qualified yet I am not worrying about things like that.

All I am worrying about now is to perform at my best each week. There will be enough time for me look forward to certain things after I am qualified, but right now the focus is only on my next tournament.

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How have you worked/will you work with your coach to prepare for the Games?

FIA: I think we will try and prepare as if it’s just another tournament, so exactly the same as we prepare for any other tournament. Of course the Olympic Games are going to be different but the more equal the preparation the easier it will be for my body to perform at it’s best. My body won’t know if it’s the Olympic Games or if it’s just a practice round, it’s just the mind.

Therefore I think the focus will definitely be on the mental training where we will specifically look at the Olympic Games as just another tournament. And because we all know that this won’t completely work, as it will be something different and something bigger, we will also work on things like accepting that fact that it’s a bigger event, that there will be more things going on around it, etc.

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What impact do you think golf being in the 2016 Olympics will have on the sport?

FIA: Hopefully it will have a positive impact and Golf will be seen more as a sport, because the significance and acceptance of a certain sport is definitely bigger if it’s part of the Olympic Games.

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The PGAs of Europe Olympic PGA Professional Coach Hub is a first-of-its-kind Olympics page (http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros) that aims to and celebrate coaching and shine a light on the PGA Professionals from around the world that are supporting, or have supported, the 120 male and female potential qualifiers for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games

Each Player-PGA Professional section contains details about their relationship, key links to find out more about both the potential Olympic qualifier and their associated PGA Professional, along with interviews and features with many of them.

For more information on the PGAs of Europe Olympic Coach Rankings visit http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros

Images courtesy of Stefan Gort & Fabienne In-Albon
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Olympic Coaches – Stefan Gort & Fabienne In-Albon
Olympic Coaches – Keith Williams & Klara Spilkova http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/olympic-coaches-keith-williams-klara-spilkova/ Mon, 22 Aug 2016 13:37:45 +0000 PGAs of Europe http://www.pgae.com/?p=15203 Our Olympic Coach Q&A shines a spotlight on the Czech Republic's Potential Olympic Qualifier, Klara Spilkova, and her coach, Keith Williams...]]>

Klara Spilkova and coach, Keith Williams, have been working together since she joined the Czech Golf Federation training squad in 2007 when she was 12 years old. Keith states that Klara has always had a determined attitude which is how she has got to where she is today, and it is Keith’s vast experience that helps Klara build her own self-belief and confidence.

Keith and Klara meet once a month or more and communicate regularly online to keep up to date with her progress. Their training schedule has been driven by the Olympics with an increase in practice on links-style courses in preparation for the Olympic course in Rio.

Klara Spilkova

@spilkovaklara

Keith Williams

Country: Czech Republic Wales :Country
Turned Professional: 2011 Great Britain & Ireland :PGA of
Tournament Wins: 0 42 :Years Coaching

 

PGA PROFESSIONAL COACH: KEITH WILLIAMS

Explain a bit about how you began working with your athlete and when that was.

KW: I met Klara as Head Coach for the Czech Golf Federation – Klara joined the training squad at 12 years old in 2007. She was always a very talented played, albeit with a small physique, so optimising her technique was important. Fortunately she was such a determined girl so her attitude was always 100%, which ultimately is why she’s where she is right now!

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What are the key things you are going to work on to prepare your athlete for the Olympic Games?

KW: We will just work at what we have planned for the 2016 season – the Olympics is a significant event for golf and one that Klara welcomes as a great privilege to participate in.

We are increasing our practice on some links venues as the Rio course is designed in that style. We have just finished four days training at Saunton Golf Club in Devon, United Kingdom – I will coach & caddy for Klara at Dundonald Links for the Scottish Ladies Open later this year and we will organise one more links visit before Brazil.

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Have you changed anything technically or even just operationally with your athlete to help prepare or to aid their qualification hopes?

KW: No not really but we are aware it’s a big year for Klara as in a small country like the Czech Republic the benefits are enormous.

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What advice will you be giving them about competing on a wider global stage than perhaps ever before with an approximate 3.6billion viewers across the world?

KW: I always advise players to enjoy the experience.  Have fun…whatever the score it’s a privilege to play at this level!

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How will you stay in touch with your athlete during the Olympic Games?

KW: Originally I was going to travel with Klara and probably caddy for her too, but we have decided her caddy will attend instead.  We will still keep in touch via FaceTime & online coaching systems though.

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What does it mean to you to be working with a potential Olympic qualifier?

KW: Wonderful of course…it’s a Major really if not in name, whatever some say!  There’s no guarantee that golf will remain in the Olympics so it’s about enjoying it and taking something from the experience!

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How do you work with your athlete on a day-to-day basis?

KW: We have a 12-month programme.  As Klara has moved up the rankings it’s been more difficult in some ways – the pressure to improve technically and skills-wise have increased and Klara wants to be a LET winner, Solheim Cup player and LPGA player.

We have identified her strengths & weaknesses pretty well and have filled many of the gaps.  There is still plenty to do but we meet up once a month or more and always communicate via online options.

OLYMPIC ATHLETE: KLARA SPILKOVA

What does the prospect of being able to represent your country and make history at the Olympic Games mean to you?

KS: Well it’s great…I’ve played for my country since I was 12 years old as an amateur golfer, but playing as a professional and at the very top level is an ambition I really enjoy.

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What makes your relationship with your coach a success and a benefit to your game? 

KS: I have been coached by Keith since I joined the Czech Golf Federation National Squad system and have always appreciated his ability to coach talented players at the highest level.

His communication is great but for me he is always that one step ahead; he sees what I need to focus & work on clearly and sets me on path of progress and development.

I know I have a coach who’s worked with Major winners, Ryder Cup players and with two national Federations, which helps build my own self-belief and confidence. If he tells me I can do it then I know I can and that he means it!

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How important have they been in your existing/current development as an athlete?

KS: He always keeps me moving forward…I’m naturally very ambitious and have high personal expectations. Keith matches those and goes beyond. I know if I have questions he can answer them.

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How are they going to help you prepare for the Olympics?

KS: Yes we have it all planned so I will play my schedule on the Ladies European Tour, add some special training dates with Keith, and work intelligently with my physical and mental coaches.

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What are you most looking forward to about potentially competing in the Olympics?

KS: Just to be a part of the largest sporting event in the World, staged once every four years, wearing your national colours in the first golf tournament staged in modern times at the Olympics is…as they say in the UK… a ‘no brainier’!”

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How have you worked/will you work with your coach to prepare for the Games?

KS: Extra Links golf & adding/improving some skills related to links play.

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What impact do you think golf being in the 2016 Olympics will have on the sport?

KS: Hopefully it will help grow the game in the Czech Republic. We are crazy about sport and to have golf involved is fantastic for the Czech Golf Federation and the golf industry in the country.

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How important is it to you that your coach is a PGA Professional?

KS: We have an active PGA in the Czech Republic and they deliver a good programme. Keith is a true PGA coach…He’s achieved so many things in all areas of the game in the UK – it’s like having a guarantee or standard of quality. That works for me!!

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The PGAs of Europe Olympic PGA Professional Coach Hub is a first-of-its-kind Olympics page (http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros) that aims to and celebrate coaching and shine a light on the PGA Professionals from around the world that are supporting, or have supported, the 120 male and female potential qualifiers for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games

Each Player-PGA Professional section contains details about their relationship, key links to find out more about both the potential Olympic qualifier and their associated PGA Professional, along with interviews and features with many of them.

For more information on the PGAs of Europe Olympic Coach Rankings visit http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros

Images courtesy of Keith Williams and Ladies European Tour/Tristan Jones
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Olympic Coaches – Keith Williams & Klara Spilkova
A Walk in the Olympics Park for Inbee http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/a-walk-in-the-olympics-park-for-inbee/ Sat, 20 Aug 2016 21:07:05 +0000 International Golf Federation (IGF) http://www.pgae.com/?p=16384 Inbee Park of the Republic of Korea captured Asia’s first Olympic golf gold medal to underline her status as one of the modern greats of the women’s game.]]>

Inbee Park of the Republic of Korea captured Asia’s first Olympic golf gold medal when she completed a remarkable recovery from injury to underline her status as one of the modern greats of the women’s game.

The 28-year-old from Seoul recorded her third sublime 66 at Reserva de Marapendi Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro to win the first women’s competition since 1900 by five shots from New Zealand’s Lydia Ko and by six from Shanshan Feng of China. Park finished on a 16-under-par total of 268 with scores of 66-66-70-66.

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Park turned the final day in front of a sell-out crowd into a stunning exhibition of brilliantly controlled golf, extending her lead from two strokes overnight into a commanding five-shot victory over world No.1 Ko, who rolled in a seven-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole for a 69 and 273 total to claim the silver medal. Feng matched Ko’s closing score to take the bronze on 274.

Just for good measure, Russia’s Maria Verchenova smashed the course record by firing a nine-under-par 62, assisted by a hole-in-one at the fourth, to climb 25 places into a tie for 18th at the conclusion of a highly successful return to the Olympic Games for women’s golf.

As a result of today’s outcome, it means that all six medals awarded in the two golf competitions have been distributed among six different nations – Korea, New Zealand and China in the women’s competition and Great Britain (Justin Rose), Sweden (Henrik Stenson) and the United States (Matt Kuchar) in last week’s men’s contest.

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The new Olympic champion hugged her equally emotional three Korean team-mates after holing out for a regulation par five at the 18th hole and said: “This is definitely one of the special moments in my golfing career and in my whole life.  It feels great.  Obviously representing your country and winning the gold is so special.  It’s just really all I’ve wanted.”

Park’s triumph was all the more extraordinary for the fact that she has only played once competitively since June, the result of an on-going problem with her left thumb which curtailed her 2016 appearances to just 10 starts on the LPGA Tour.

However, with seven majors in her locker, there was no disputing her supreme talent, and Park delivered a masterclass in precision golf, accruing seven birdies – offset by two back-nine bogeys – in holding the opposition at arm’s length all day.

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She added: “This is something I’ve really been dreaming of coming into the week. There were so many Korean people out here supporting me and it almost felt like we were in Korea.  Seeing how much support I had this week, I’m just happy that I finished well. This is definitely a big relief.”

Kiwi Ko, still only a teenager and surely set to compete in Tokyo in four years’ time, fought hard to close the gap on the Korean, but ultimately Park’s advantage was seldom under threat.

She commented: “I didn’t have a great start, but I just tried to hang in there.  I can’t believe I’m holding a medal on the podium – it’s what I’ve been dreaming about since 2009.  To actually be there beside Inbee and Shanshan, is a dream come true. This has been just an amazing week.”

Ko knew that she had to get up and down from greenside to avoid a play-off for silver and bronze with Feng, and did so brilliantly. She laughed: “My celebration was as if I won the gold! It’s pretty cool.”

Quotes of the Day – Round 4

Inbee Park 268 (66, 66, 70, 66) On how she rates becoming Olympic champion:  “I think definitely at the top because you know, this is something I’ve never done before.  I’ve won majors, but I haven’t won a gold medal, so this feels definitely very, very special and nothing I want to change.  It’s a special week and special feeling, and I’m so honoured to represent my country.  Being able to receive the gold medal on the golf course was an unforgettable moment.”

Lydia Ko 273 (69, 70, 65, 69): Lydia Ko On other New Zealand athletes coming out to support her Sunday:  “That was one of the greatest things that I was really excited about this week was that I was able to meet other New Zealand athletes and see some that I had met before like Eric (Murray, gold medal rower).  We’ve done a sponsor thing before.  And to see him out here and come out and support me, I think has been amazing.  That’s been one of the greatest memories of this week is to see the other New Zealand athletes, see the New Zealand flag out there and them waving and shouting and supporting.  It’s been amazing.”

Shanshan Feng 274 (70, 67, 68, 69): “Well, of course, China is a very strong country in the Olympics, and we’ve made so many gold, silver, bronze medals.  So my bronze medal maybe doesn’t mean that much for the whole number, but to myself it means a lot, because this is golf back in the Olympics after over a hundred years, and I believe it’s the first time that a Chinese athlete is competing in this event.”

Charley Hull 276 (68, 66, 74, 68): “My first Olympics was a fantastic experience and I got a good buzz off it. I thought it was great. I felt happy with my performance but it’s a shame I couldn’t come away with a medal.”

Gerina Piller 278 (69, 67, 68, 74): “The crowds were awesome today. I didn’t know what to expect. There are a lot of people that come to the Olympics that don’t really know much about golf.  It was pretty impressive that all the people came out.”

Maria Verchenova 280 (75, 70, 73, 62): “I think the whole thing is just me being here and playing here, it means a lot, because that’s going to push Russian golf forward, and that’s what we need, because Russian golf is kind of steady now; it needs to be pushed forward.”

Lexi Thompson 281 (68, 71, 76, 66): “I’ve had more messages and more texts from people that don’t really watch golf.  My parents have gotten messages from people that they haven’t heard from in years, and they are watching golf just because it’s part of the Olympics. I hope this made a mark for us, and hopefully, we’ll be in the Olympics for years to come.”

Leona Maguire  282 (74, 65, 74, 69): “It’s been a fantastic week.  Obviously going to some of the sport events at the start of the week was great.  Got to see Michael Phelps’ last race and then being able to be in the first group here is something I’ll never forget on the first morning. And obviously this has been streamed all around the world, so I think it’s great for ladies golf in general.”

Aditi Ashok 291 (68, 68, 79, 76): “My Facebook page and Twitter has been going off quite a lot.  I’m happy that a lot of people who didn’t really watch golf are watching golf now (in India).  It’s only going to get better from here.”

Miriam Nagl 298 (79, 77, 72, 70): “I think it’s obviously making a huge difference that the Brazilians are coming out and supporting as much as they did this week and last week. I hope it’s going to make a difference. I think it’s a big step to make it big in Brazil.”

Victoria Lovelady 300 (79, 75, 76, 70): “The whole experience was amazing – arriving here, going to the Village, going to the Opening Ceremony, seeing my dad in the Opening Ceremony by coincidence, crying with him, singing the anthem, walking through the village with all the athletes, seeing Bolt, taking a selfie with Bolt, seeing Nadal. Everything was amazing.”

For more information on the PGAs of Europe Olympic Coach Rankings visit http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros

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For up-to-the-minute information on #OlympicGolf and regular updates, please follow us on Twitter (@OlympicGolf), FacebookInstagram and YouTube.

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A Walk in the Olympics Park for Inbee
Life is Just Ace for Ko as Park Leads Race for Olympic Title http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/life-is-just-ace-for-ko-as-park-leads-race-for-olympic-title/ Sat, 20 Aug 2016 05:09:06 +0000 International Golf Federation (IGF) http://www.pgae.com/?p=16382 World No. 1 Lydia Ko chose the perfect moment to register the first hole-in-one of her life today and it could potentially lead her to an Olympic title...]]>

World No. 1 Lydia Ko chose the perfect moment to register the first hole-in-one of her life today – and that sweetest of seven-iron shots could potentially lead her to the promised land of Olympic glory in Rio de Janeiro.

Standing in her way is the indomitable figure of the Republic of Korea’s Inbee Park, the most decorated major champion in the field, who held firm in blustery conditions to move two strokes clear in the race to capture the first women’s Olympic gold since 1900.

With the prospect of the winds increasing in intensity – and the possibility of thunderstorms tomorrow afternoon – the final round will now be played off the first and tenth tees at 07.00 with the leaders teeing off at 08.44 in order to avoid disruption to a potentially thrilling climax.

Meanwhile Ko, the 19-year-old New Zealander who has taken the golfing world by storm in three trophy-laden years as a professional, defied gusty, swirling winds at Reserva de Marapendi Golf Course to blaze a trail through the elite women’s field and into serious medal contention.

At the end of a challenging day, which witnessed several changes at the top of a powerful leaderboard, Ko found herself in a tie for second place after a third round of 65 which featured a dazzling outward nine holes of 29 – and the thrill of that ace from 140 yards.

Park, a seven-time major winner, added a third round 70 for a total of 202 to double her overnight lead to two shots while Ko’s 54-hole total of 204, nine under par, send her hurtling from 21st to second place alongside Gerina Piller. The American dropped a shot at the 18th but managed to sign for a three-under-par 68 and total of 204 while China’s Shanshan Feng matched that 68 to close in on the leading pack on 205.

The capricious nature of the afternoon gusts damaged a number of medal prospects, with Piller’s compatriot, Stacy Lewis, shooting a 76 to slip back from second place into a tie for eighth. Brooke Henderson of Canada, who won the Women’s PGA Championship earlier this season, was only one shot better while Charley Hull’s attempt to emulate Justin Rose’s men’s gold medal for Great Britain also suffered a setback as she took 74.

The timing of Ko’s first hole-in-one could not be more propitious, with the women’s Olympic competition reaching a thrilling climax. The two Olympic events have now witnessed four aces, with two in the men’s contest and two in one day for the women, with Ko matching the feat of China’s Xi Yu Lin earlier in the same day.

The Kiwi said: “This is the first one in a practice round and tournaments, all included.  I almost didn’t know how to react, because it is your first one, and the wind is blowing and I haven’t had the best of luck when it comes to hole‑in‑ones.  I would have loved to like done a dance or jumped up‑and‑down, but in that situation, I think I was almost trying to cry, and then realised I had 11 more holes to play.

“It’s really cool.  It just puts the cherry on top.  This week is about having fun and this experience, being an Olympian and competing in the Olympics, and to have my first hole-in-one, is something that I’ll never forget.”

The medal chase promises to be exciting with Park, Ko and Piller at the head of affairs, and the experienced Korean admitted: It was very challenging (in the) conditions.  I feel like I really struggled out there.  My putting was really, really good today, six birdies out in those conditions is phenomenal. I’m very happy with where I’m positioned right now. “

In spite of the uncertainty over her fitness due to a long-term thumb injury, Park has belief in her ability to strike gold. She added: “Somewhere in my heart, after I made the decision to play this week, I really believed in myself that I can do it.  If I didn’t have a trust in myself, I wouldn’t be playing this week.”

Feng, who moved into podium contention, confirmed that the wind had caused considerable difficulties. She explained: “The wind stayed in the same direction but it was kind of gusty at some points.  It was hard out there, because even for me – and I’m not a short hitter – I used 3‑wood into the greens on three par 4s, and that’s not very normal.  It was really tough.  You just need to stay patient the whole day, and I think I did.”

Hull still believes she is playing well enough to win. She said: “I scrambled quite well. I’m happy with the position that I’m in.  And I’m only in tied fifth position and that’s nothing going into tomorrow. Anything can happen on a Sunday in a major – or in this case, the Olympics.”

Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, the most recent major champion in women’s golf, was forced to retire after 13 holes due to a knee injury.

Quotes of the Day – Round 3

Inbee Park 202 (66, 66, 70): “I think having big names on the leaderboard can make everything a lot more exciting and that can help women’s golf grow a lot bigger. I’m very happy what we are showing in the Olympic golf right now.  It’s really exciting for everyone.  Really exciting for me.  Really exciting for all the other players that are competing.  Exciting for all the people who are watching.  Yeah, it’s a great scenario.”

Lydia Ko 204 (69, 70, 65): “This week has been great.  Even without considering today, I think just this experience, being here, representing New Zealand, seeing some of the other athletes from New Zealand, I think that is an inspiration, and I think that’s what the Olympics is about. Obviously the results and the medals are great, but at the end of the day, it’s about the world’s best athletes together and having a great time and at the end, having to compete to stand on the podium.”

Gerina Piller 204 (69, 67, 68): “I would say it’s one of the biggest (rounds of her life), yes.  Playing the Solheim Cup is definitely dear to my heart and trying to win that for the country.  But I’ve never played in the final round of an Olympics before competing for a medal.  It’s going to be pretty special.  I’m going to soak it in all in, take it all in, and no matter what the outcome, I’m proud to be American.”

Shanshan Feng 205 (70, 67. 68): “Back in China, normally we are only on golf channels, but this time people can see us on any (television) channels.  I think that’s a great chance to let the Chinese know how good the Chinese players are, and hopefully they can just fall in love with the sport and join this sport.”

Paula Reto 209 (74, 67, 68): “It (Olympic Games) feels awesome.  It’s almost like you’ve got something above some people.  Just the experience, it’s something you can’t buy.  It’s something you have to earn. We love the golf course.  It’s great.  For us to play for the first time in a competition since it’s been built – that’s awesome.”

Ariya Jutanugarn (WD due to knee injury): “Yeah, very disappointed, because it’s the Olympics, and I told my caddie that I want to finish like four days.  I don’t care how many over I’m going to be, but I’m thinking about my career.”

For more information on the PGAs of Europe Olympic Coach Rankings visit http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros

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Life is Just Ace for Ko as Park Leads Race for Olympic Title
Olympic Honeymoon Only Beginning For Lewis http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/olympic-honeymoon-only-beginning-for-lewis/ Fri, 19 Aug 2016 08:38:49 +0000 International Golf Federation (IGF) http://www.pgae.com/?p=16371 Stacy Lewis fired a scorching course record 63 in the second round of the women’s Olympic Golf competition...]]>

Stacy Lewis fired a scorching course record 63 in the second round of the women’s golf competition to stand on the brink of Olympic glory at the end of a whirwind two weeks in which she got married and became an Olympic athlete.

The much-decorated American takes everything in her stride, even preparing for a visit to the Olympic diving event soon after compiling the eight-under-par round which propelled her into the medal positions on 133, nine under par, just one off the pace set by Inbee Park of Korea.

However, watching the talented divers may act as a springboard to success on Saturday afternoon, when Lewis attempts to follow in the footsteps of her compatriot, Margaret Abbot, who won for the United States in Paris way back in 1900.

First, though, the new Mrs. Chadwell faces the challenge of overhauling Park, who continued her impressive recovery from a thumb injury by matching her opening 66 for a 36-hole total of 132.

Lewis carved out 11 birdies during a brilliant performance on the Olympic course, lowering Park’s course record from Wednesday by two shots. Even a bogey and a double-bogey at the 14th failed to halt her inexorable progress up a cosmopolitan leaderboard.

On the contrary, the 31-year-old recovered from that bogey blow on the 14th by closing with four straight birdies to match the 63 shot by Marcus Fraser in the men’s competition exactly one week earlier.

“I guess I have a course record here, and it’s great to put my name on that, and being near the top of the leaderboard at the Olympics,” said Lewis. “It’s something that, I think, every kid is going to dream of doing.”

She added: “It’s been such a cool week so far, and the highlight for me was just getting to see the guys up there on the podium on 18 on Sunday getting their medals and just thinking about how cool that would be to be in their shoes and be doing that on Saturday.  It’s definitely a motivating factor but I’ve had a great week and we’re enjoying it so far.”

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Park, the seven-time major winner, admitted that she arrived in Rio more in hope than expectation after a lengthy lay-off due to the on-going thumb injury. However, the Korean has plotted a steady course for two days and said: “I was able to convert the birdies today.  I missed a couple of tee shots, so I was in the sand area, but I was able to convert them into birdies. That’s really the key for today’s round.”

The leaderboard reflects the global nature of the competition, with a league of nations contending inside the top ten of an exciting women’s event. Hard on the heels of Park and Lewis are Canadian Brooke Henderson and Charley Hull, bidding to follow the gold medal performance of her fellow Briton, Justin Rose, last Sunday. Henderson also went low wth a 64 while Hull tagged a 66 onto her initial 68 for an eight-under-par total of 134.

Right behind the leaders are three players on seven under par, Marianne Skarpnord of Norway, Denmark’s Nicole Broch Larsen and Candie Kung of Chinese Taipei while the youngest player in the field, 18-year-old Aditi Ashok carries the hopes of India at six-under-par.

Quotes of the Day – Round 2

Inbee Park 132 (66, 66): “I think first coming here, I didn’t really know whether I was going to play this week or not due to the injury.  Obviously didn’t expect much of a result.  It was more of whether I can play or not.  A good result is a great gift.”

Stacy Lewis 133 (70, 63): “I was excited from the get‑go with the announcement of the Olympics.  There are probably a lot of reasons why we shouldn’t have come and shouldn’t have done this, whether it was Zika or other issues. I just did my homework and nobody gave me a good reason why I shouldn’t come.  You’d have to ‑ I mean, there’d have to be something seriously wrong with me to not come play in the Olympics.  This has been so cool.  Just a different feel about it.”

Brooke Henderson (134) 70, 64:  I feel Britt (sister and caddie) and I came up with a really good strategy for this course over the last week or so, along with Team Canada.  I think so far, it’s been pretty good.  But like I say, there’s still lots of golf left and hopefully I’ll just continue to play smart but take advantage when I can.

Charley Hull 134 (68, 66): “I don’t really look at what I do.  I just kind of get off the golf course and go to the gym.  I don’t really analyse where I am.  I just kind of think, oh, yeah, I played decent, another round tomorrow.”

Marianne Skarpnord, 135 (69, 66): “When I first came there (Team Norway house), I was thinking, God, this is like going to camp or something, border school or whatever.  The food isn’t great.  The beds aren’t great.  The apartment isn’t great.  But the atmosphere and the experience is better and a lot more than I would ever think that it would be.  I’m loving it.  I think it’s really cool.”

Nicole Broch Larsen 135 (67, 68): “It’s cool (Olympic Village).  It’s nice to be surrounded by athletes.  I think we have a good atmosphere in the Danish, yeah, all the Danish people together.  Everybody is cheering for each other.  It’s really cool getting back there yesterday and a lot of people is like, good luck, and well played.  It’s just nice to get their support, as well.”

Aditi Ashok 136 (68, 68): “I think golf every day is different.  You never hit the same shot twice.  So every day is a new experience, and you can’t really come with any expectations.  The game is bigger than all of us, so that’s what I like about it.  Every day, you have a new experience.”

Gerina Piller 136 (69, 67): “Yeah, that would be pretty cool to have a (USA) podium sweep.  It’s definitely been talked about amongst us.  But again, there’s a lot of golf to be played and you can’t put the cart before the horse.  For me, I just want to focus on playing consistent golf and hitting good shots and making putts.”

Minjee Lee 136 (69, 67): “I think when you’re on the golf course, you don’t really think about it.  But when you’re obviously not on the golf course, you’re like, oh, you just sort of realize how big of an event it is and not just for yourself, because you’re representing your country and for women’s golf and all that.  So I think it’s pretty cool just to be here.  I think it’s amazing.  More amazing as it goes.”

Lydia Ko 139 (69, 70): “I think she (Charley Hull) realises how big of a deal it is, and especially with Justin Rose winning the gold medal, I know she would love to putt a contribution to GB. I think it’s just her personality that she’s just cool, outgoing, trying to play some great golf, and no matter what tournament that you’re playing, I think that’s a confidence factor; that either you’re in perfect positions or not, you’re still going out there focusing on that shot in front of me and not worrying about everything that’s gone around you.”

For more information on the PGAs of Europe Olympic Coach Rankings visit http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros

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Olympic Honeymoon Only Beginning For Lewis
Jutanugarn Seeks Five Wins to Complete the Five Rings in Rio http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/jutanugarn-seeks-five-wins-to-complete-the-five-rings-in-rio/ Thu, 18 Aug 2016 07:02:55 +0000 International Golf Federation (IGF) http://www.pgae.com/?p=16375 Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand delivered another masterclass in a season overflowing with dominant performances by shooting a six-under-par 65]]>

Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand delivered another masterclass in a season overflowing with dominant performances by shooting a six-under-par 65 to grab the lead after the first round of the Olympic women’s golf competition.

The talented 20-year-old burst from the pack on a crowded leaderboard to set the standard on the Reserva de Marapendi Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro, on a day when women’s Olympic golf made a triumphant return after a 116-year absence.

Victory and a gold medal this week would set the seal on a phenomenal year for Jutanugarn, who reeled off three wins in consecutive starts on the LPGA Tour before landing a first major championship for Thailand in the British Women’s Open just two weeks ago. Olympic glory would be a fifth win – appropriately in view of the association with the five Olympic Rings.

“I think I’m going to be really excited, because I like to represent Thailand,” said Jutanugarn. We want to be the best and have the gold medal for Thailand. I think it’s going to be great if I have it.”

Jutanugarn collected seven birdies and an eagle, offset by a double-bogey and bogey, in lowering the best score over the new Gil Hanse and Amy Alcott-designed Olympic course which stood at 66 for just two hours courtesy of South Korea’s Inbee Park.

Park, one of four South Korean players in the 60-strong field, emerged with great credit from her competitive return in a season curtailed by a ligament problem in her left thumb by carding a five-under-par 66, the same mark as her Korean teammate, Sei Young Kim.

Three players, Nicole Broch Larsson of Denmark, Candie Kung of Chinese Taipei and Carlota Ciganda of Spain, forced their way into contention on 67, four-under-par, with a quarter of golfers on 68, including Great Britain’s Charley Hull, who is seeking to emulate Justin Rose’s gold medal performance in the men’s competition.

World No. 1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand did her cause no harm by holing her nine iron second shot from 136 yards for an eagle two on the 15th, a stunning shot which helped her into a tie for 11th place on 69.

Ko, who at 19 already has two majors to her name, said: “It was my first eagle at the Olympics, so I think it’s great.  At the men’s last week, I think there were two hole‑in‑ones and a few eagles, and I put my contribution to golf by making an eagle, I think is a really good feeling, and especially since I was even par at that point in my round. So to go from zero to two‑under-par was a great turnaround.”

Park, who has been resting in preparation for the Olympics for the majority of the past two months, completed an error-free card and laughed: “Bogey free – it’s been a while!  It feels great.  It wasn’t too windy out there this morning, so I had a lot of birdie opportunities.  I had a really good ball‑striking day and I’m very satisfied with today’s round.

“My injury felt pretty good and everything felt like I was quite ready.  I’m very happy to see the results like today.  It’s a good confidence boost. I felt quite nervous this morning, teeing off, and being able to overcome that kind of nerves feels great.”

Quotes of the Day – Round 1

Ariya Jutanugarn 65 (-6): “I like (the Village) a lot. Before I came here I had no idea what it’s going to be like.  When I got into the Village, I liked it. I love it a lot.  I’m a roommate with the badminton players from Thailand and I have had a chance to watch them play a few matches. Pretty good.”

Inbee Park 66 (-5): “I think that this (the Olympic Games) could be the highlight of my career.  I was lucky enough to have the opportunity. I’ve won a lot of the major championships but, obviously, in the Olympic Games, you get to only do it once every four years, so being able to be standing here representing South Korea is something very special and very meant to be.  (I am) so very happy to be here.  It’s a huge honour, and like I said, it could be the highlight of my golfing career.”

Nicole Broch Larsson 67 (-4):  “It was fun out there.  I didn’t really think about it as the Olympics.  It was another round of golf and I tried to focus on my own things. It was different waking up in the Olympic Village instead of in a single room at another hotel.  It’s just been a really cool experience so far and I’m really enjoying my time down here. I’ve got my brother and my dad here, and we have a few others from the Danish Golf Union. It’s really nice to get support.”

Candie Kung 67 (-4):  “I actually went to Vegas for a wedding before I came here, so I didn’t get here till Monday afternoon. It was one of my best friends from high school.  She planned it around me.  She thought I had three weeks off.  She forgot there’s the Olympics! When I got to the course, it was blowing so hard I couldn’t even walk it.”

Carlota Ciganda 67 (-4): “Watching Rafa (Nadal) is the best.  He’s my hero.  When you watch that guy playing tennis – the way he runs, the way he fights, it’s just another planet.  You can see he’s not playing great, but he still wins.  And when he’s under pressure, he plays even better.  I had breakfast with him, and without competing 2 ½ months, he won the (doubles) Gold Medal and finished fourth (in singles).  We’ve played twice.  He loves golf. I think he’s one of the best athletes in Spanish history.”

Aditi Ashok 68 (-3): “I’ve played the Youth Olympics, as well. I’ve kind of had that experience of playing that and it made me want to play in the Olympics as well.  This is my rookie year. Getting the experience and playing for India and trying to win a medal for my country doesn’t get better than that. It would be huge for women’s golf in India, because we don’t have that many girls playing and this will definitely boost the popularity of the game in India and that’s what we need.  So I hope I can do that.”

Lexi Thompson 68 (-3): “The nerves were there, that’s for sure.  It is a whole different feeling, just stepping on that tee, saying that you’re an Olympian golfer.  There’s nothing like that.  It was an adrenaline rush.  Hopefully we’ll get more and more people out on that first tee as the days go by, but it was an amazing feeling to have.”

Gerina Piller 69 (-2):  When golf came back in the Olympics, I thought, it’s like, wow, here is my chance to go to the Olympics, and never thought I would be standing here giving an interview about being in the Olympics.  It’s just a dream come true. “

Stacy Lewis 70 (-1): “You can’t even compare this to a major.  You have majors, you have LPGA events.  You can’t even compare it to the Solheim Cup.  It’s different.  It’s the Olympics.  It has a different feel about it.  I don’t even know what to compare it to.  I think it’s a good thing that it’s different.  It doesn’t need to be compared with a major or any of that stuff.  It’s its own deal, and you know, we are 60 players here, are forever Olympians, and that’s cool.”

Leona Maguire (Ireland) 74 (+3): Talking about following the men: ““I think for me, the best players in the world are here – that’s their job.  That’s not my job this week.  I’m just out there to have as much fun as I can and do as well as I can, and that’s up to Lydia and Brooke and Ariya and those girls to show that they are the best players in the world.  For me, it’s just a bonus being here.”

Miriam Nagl (Brazil) 79 (+8): Talking about hitting the first Olympic women’s tee shot in 116 years: “It was nerve‑wracking, to be honest.  I was very nervous, but what an honour that I could be hitting this shot.  It means so much to me – being in my home country and golf being back in the Olympic Games, and (the fact that) I have a little daughter now. It was just very special to me.”

For more information on the PGAs of Europe Olympic Coach Rankings visit http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros

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Jutanugarn Seeks Five Wins to Complete the Five Rings in Rio
Stenson Delivers ‘Golf For the Ages’ http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/stenson-delivers-golf-for-the-ages/ Tue, 16 Aug 2016 14:41:43 +0000 International Golf Federation (IGF) http://www.pgae.com/?p=16339 Sweden's Henrik Stenson has had a pretty solid summer after his first major victory at the Open Championship and a silver medal in Rio...]]>

Perhaps it was something to do with the bracing sea air in the county of Ayrshire in Scotland which was responsible for one of golf’s gargantuan performances in the 145th Open at Royal Troon.

After all, The Open began life just a few miles further down the coast in Prestwick in 1860, and Ayrshire had also witnessed the famous ‘Duel in the Sun’ at Turnberry, when Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus battled each other for the 1977 Claret Jug like two steely-eyed gunfighters from the Wild West.

Step forward Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson at Royal Troon on July 17, 2016. On an epic day, on the grandest of stages, the pair produced a head-to-head contest which was at least the equal of the Watson-Nicklaus shoot-out 39 years earlier. Stenson, the ‘nearly’ man of major golf, finally lost that unwelcome tag with a majestic closing round of 63. Mickelson shot a bogey-free 65 and lost by three.

Watson and Nicklaus were in agreement – this head-to-head battle surpassed their own blockbuster from 1977. “This was better,” insisted Watson. “Just look at the facts. It was a shoot-out right from the start – great shot after great shot – and one for the ages.”

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Stenson, a natural left-hander who learned the game right-handed, was a scratch amateur by the age of 18 and cut his teeth on the European Challenge Tour with considerable success before landing his first European Tour title in 2001. When he sank the winning putt to help Europe retain The Ryder Cup in 2006, his ascent to the upper echelons of the game seemed assured.

It was not to be. The Swede suffered an inexplicable decline, sliding from fourth – in 2009, when he won the prestigious Players Championship on the PGA Tour – to 230th on the World Ranking in 2012. Stenson was clearly in urgent need of some TLC and found a willing confidant in one of the world’s leading coaches, Dubai-based Pete Cowen.

The pair struck up an immediate rapport and set about healing Stenson’s ailing game. The signs that the patient was responding to treatment were soon apparent, to the extent that in 2013 he became the first player to win the FedEx Cup in the USA and the European Tour’s Race to Dubai in the same season.

That same year, he flirted with major success, finishing runner-up behind Mickelson in The Open at Muirfield before taking third place in the US PGA Championship. In 2014, he tied for third in the US Open and fourth in the US PGA. He was getting closer. The restorative powers of Cowen’s coaching medicine were taking effect.

Finally, in 2016, the demons were exorcised. Stenson was imperious over the weekend at Royal Troon, becoming the first Swedish male golfer to savour major championship glory. Two weeks later, Stenson was a serious challenger for the US PGA Championship, and battling for the final day lead, before slipping back to finish tied seventh behind Jimmy Walker of the U.S.

The next step for the Swede was his shot at Olympic Gold in Rio de Janeiro and whilst he didn’t achieve the top spot on the podium, he got closer than any of the chasers finishing with a silver medal.

As Watson pronounced, it was one for the ages. High Noon at Troon. It might never be bettered.

For more information on the PGAs of Europe Olympic Coach Rankings visit http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros

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Stenson Delivers ‘Golf For the Ages’
Amateurs Aiming High in Rio http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/amateurs-aiming-high-in-rio/ Tue, 16 Aug 2016 14:06:11 +0000 International Golf Federation (IGF) http://www.pgae.com/?p=16330 It won't be just the Pros battling it out in Rio for the Gold with three amateurs competing in the Women's event...]]>

The ancient Olympic Games motto of Citius, Altius, Fortius may sometimes appear from another era, but in the case of three young women golfers, the Latin phrase for Faster, Higher, Stronger adopted by Pierre de Coubertin is entirely appropriate.

The Founder of the modern Olympic Games would surely have approved of Tiffany Chan, Leona Maguire and Albane Valenzuela competing in the first Olympic golf competition since 1904 (and the first women’s event since 1900).

As the only three amateur golfers among the 120 entrants (60 men and 60 women) taking part at Reserva de Marapendi Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro, the trio have not yet earned one pound, euro or dollar from the sport.

That may change in the future as professional golf beckons, but for now Chan, from Hong Kong, Ireland’s Maguire and Swiss miss Valenzuela have been playing for pride and honour.

That is not to underestimate their abilities. All three boast impressive credentials at amateur level, and all of them have performed with distinction in the professional events which enabled them to gather enough points to finish inside the top 60 on the Olympic Golf Rankings.

Chan has already won the Future Open, an LPGA of Taiwan event in 2015 – a victory which help plot her course towards Rio – and her qualification was described by the President of the Hong Kong Golf Association as: “the greatest day in Hong Kong golfing history”. High praise indeed for the 22-year-old.

Maguire, 21, carried the prestige of being the world’s No.1 women’s amateur player for a full year between May 2015 and May 2016 while Valenzuela, at just 18 years of age, made the cut in two majors, the ANA Inspiration and US Women’s Open this year to hurtle towards Olympic glory.

Both Maguire and Valenzuela will enjoy parental and sibling assistance when the women’s event tees off on August 17. Leona, who is 15 minutes younger than her twin, Lisa, will have her sister on caddie duty, a role she performed in the recent RICOH British Women’s Open, where Leona tied for 25th at Woburn in England.

Valenzuela’s father, Alberto, will also be caddying for his teenage daughter, having also fulfilled that role on a number of occasions as Albane has taken a stratospheric route towards the upper echelons of the women’s amateur game.

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“It’s a dream come true, and I aim to enjoy every single moment,” said Maguire. “And to have my sister as caddie, and being able to share the experience with her, is extra special. We are both staying in the Olympic Village and it will be reassuring to have Lisa there, with mum and dad staying at home to watch on TV.”

Valenzuela, the offspring of two talented golfers, has no issue with Alberto carrying the golf bag, although mum, Diane, and her brothers, will be watching from outside the ropes.

She said “My dad was a very good international amateur golfer and it’s great to have him by my side. He’s caddied for me many times before. It works really well. He knows my personality and it’s been a good partnership.”

Chan will have her parents and sister, Cathy, among the spectators at Reserva de Marapendi, and she is reveling in the opportunity to represent her country, where the reaction to her selection has been “exceptional”.

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She said “The media reaction has been overwhelming and really positive. Now I am looking forward to going to Rio and meeting world class athletes from all over the world in the Olympic Village, playing against the top female golfers in the game but, above all, representing Hong Kong as an Olympian, which is potentially a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Consorting with other athletes from a variety of sports also appeals to Valenzuela, who is disappointed that two famous Swiss, tennis players Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, have pulled out of the Games due to injury.

“I am staying in the Village and looking forward to the overall experience,” she added. “I am attending the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and I hope to walk around the Village and maybe bump into Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps – among the best athletes in the world. It should be amazing. I wouldn’t miss the ceremonies for the world as I may never do anything like it again.”

Due to other commitments, Maguire and Chan will only manage to attend the Closing Ceremony, which falls 24 hours after the first women’s gold, silver and bronze women’s medals for 116 years are decided.

Maguire added: “I am looking forward to the Closing Ceremony, but also I want to seeing some other sports. At a normal tournament, that is not an option. It would be unbelievable to go and watch an Irish athlete win a medal. I remember at London 2012, it seemed like the whole of Ireland stopped to watch Katie Taylor win gold in the boxing. It was phenomenal.”

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The Irish woman from Co. Cavan admitted that the Olympics “were not even on my radar” until she was made aware that amateur golfers could qualify. As world No.1, she received invitations to professional events and gradually moved up into the top 60 on the Olympic Rankings.

She also received huge encouragement from Ireland’s Team Leader, the winning 2014 Ryder Cup captain, Paul McGinley. She said: “Paul’s been great. Really supportive. He got in touch to encourage me to try to get into as many pro events as possible and to try to qualify. He’s always sending me texts asking how things are going and he sent photos of the Olympic course after his visit to Rio. He is definitely going to help Stephanie Meadow and me to prepare in the best way possible.”

All three women have a bright future ahead of them. Who knows? The amateur may yet have the measure of the professional when their competition reaches a climax on August 20. Citius, Altius, Fortius indeed!

For more information on the PGAs of Europe Olympic Coach Rankings visit http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros

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Images courtesy of Ladies European Tour/Tristan Jones
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Amateurs Aiming High in Rio
The Lady Loves a Golfing Party in Rio http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/the-lady-loves-a-golfing-party-in-rio/ Mon, 15 Aug 2016 15:31:20 +0000 PGAs of Europe http://www.pgae.com/?p=16353 In common with much of Brazil and Rio de Janeiro in particular, there is a touch of flamboyance and the exotic about Victoria Lovelady.]]>

In common with much of Brazil and Rio de Janeiro in particular, there is a touch of flamboyance and the exotic about Victoria Lovelady.

Born Victoria Alimonda in the vibrant 2016 Olympic city, she now carries the surname of her American husband. She sparkles with vitality and good humour, and apart from being a talented professional golfer, she is a mean guitarist and singer who even penned her own Olympic song a few months ago.

Lovelady is one of two Brazilian women golfers who will tee up at Reserva de Marependi Golf Course on August 17 (the other in Miriam Nagl), and she admits that excitement over Rio2016 is now reaching fever pitch in the city where she grew up.

And she is certain that the Brazilian culture will win over the hundreds of thousands of visitors to Rio and the billions glued to their television sets. It’s in the DNA of the Cariocas.

“Yes, definitely,” she asserts. “If we Brazilians know anything, it is how to host sports events and to party. It’s in our blood. People coming to Brazil discover there is a always a little surprise factor. I tell everyone that Brazilians know how to have a good time. In a crisis, we like to have a party!”

Lovelady just squeezed into the Olympic field, after missing out on automatic qualification. However, when some National Olympic Committees opted not to put forward their golfers to attend the Olympic Games, her name was restored to the top 60.

Although now resident in Sao Paulo, her family has enjoyed close connections with Rio. She said: “My great grandfather was one of the founding members of Itanhanga Golf Club and my dad got me started in golf when I was 12. I always followed him in trying sports, so I said I wanted to try golf, too.

“Golf has brought a lot into my life. In the beginning I was able to win events locally and I loved the competition. I went to the United States to play high school golf and told my parents I wanted to stay there. I was living with my godmother in California when I earned a scholarship to play for University of Southern California (USC) and we won the national championships when I studied there. Once I saw the possibilities in golf in the U.S. I knew that is what I wanted to do.”

Lovelady believes Rio is ready for its grand opening, despite some obstacles along the way. She added: “I was back in Rio almost a month ago and there is a sense of excitement. I have seen the contructions finish and the media is giving the Games more attention, people are getting excited and talking about getting their tickets. The city is going to be ready.”

She certainly believes the golf course is ready to host a remarkable party of its own, irrespective of the happenings on Copacabana, Ipanema and the Maracana. Lovelady took part in the official Test Event alongside eight other Brazilian male and female golfers in March, and revelled in the experience.

“The course really surprised me. I was very impressed” she insists. “I knew we had problems in the beginning with the legislation so I didn’t know what to expect. However I did know that the course was in good hands with Gil Hanse, who is such a great designer. It was an amazing experience to play it.

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“I actually walked the course last November when it was inaugurated by the City with the Mayor. I think it’s very challenging – the angles of the greens, the tee shots and especially the landing areas because there is no rough, just former waste land which is now an environmentally protected area.”

She added: “The greens are small and undulating and I knew it was going to be so tough. I think the quality of grass they used is perfect. The way the ball responded on the greens and fairways, the grass just tees up the ball and it’s a great feeling to hit off that surface. I was excited over every shot I hit.

“With the greens and the angles, the course is really fair and rewards your good shots. I thought, with the course being new, I wouldn’t have that type of response but it was great. It was harmonious, it was challenging. You had to think of landing areas and there are holes that encourage you to attack.”

Lovelady pinpointed two holes in particular which caught her eye, the par four 13th and 16th. She continued:  “The 13th is a dog-leg right where you can cut through the trees on the right but not too much. I did that and lost my ball. I was two under at that stage  in the Test Event. The other is 16th, a short par four and the long hitters can go for the green but the chip afterwards can be challenging. It was awesome. I really enjoyed it.

“I would say No.13 is probably the signature hole because the green is really challenging. It’s not an easy approach and the green is so undulating. I also liked the par three fourth. It’s a cool hole.”

Lovelady is praying that as many people as possible come to watch the Olympic golf competitions in person, as well as follow the action on TV. And in the future, she fervently hopes that Rio de Janeiro will have a public golf course to attract a new generation of golfer.

She said: “One of the great things is that someone who is curious to grab a club and a golf ball is going to have access to this. It is a huge first step. The surrounding areas of the course is residential, with high rise buildings. I feel if I was a kid living in one of those buildings and I looked down from on high and saw a golf course that I could go and have access to, I would be really excited. I would be saying; hey mom, hey dad, I want to try that.

“In Brazil we are really good in sport. I often see first swings from beginners that are pretty impressive. I really hope they do golf programmes with local high schools to bring the kids into the game for the first time. Now you can rent clubs and I believe it will be a big boost for the sport in our country.”

Despite her local connections, Lovelady won’t be staying privately with family or friends. She insisted: “I am staying in the Village. I want the full experience. How cool is that? To be with the athletes is so much fun. The girls have been asking me about the course and I tell them it’s so much fun to play and very exciting, but that Rio the city will be, too.”

Perhaps she might serenade her fellow golfers in the evenings…with a rendition of Girl from Ipanema, surely?

For more information on the PGAs of Europe Olympic Coach Rankings visit http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros

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The Lady Loves a Golfing Party in Rio
Draw Released for Women’s Golf Competition at Rio 2016 http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/draw-release-for-womens-golf-competition-at-rio-2016/ Mon, 15 Aug 2016 15:18:34 +0000 International Golf Federation (IGF) http://www.pgae.com/?p=16291 The world’s top women golfers are set to take the Olympic stage in Rio de Janeiro beginning this Wednesday, 17 August]]>

The world’s top women golfers are set to take the Olympic stage in Rio de Janeiro beginning this Wednesday, 17 August.

The International Golf Federation this morning announced the draw for the first and second rounds of the women’s golf competition at Rio 2016 when a field of 60 competitors will be seeking to follow in the footsteps of Margaret Abbott of the United States, who won the gold medal in Paris in 1900.

Host nation, Brazil, will be recognised again when Miriam Nagl hits the opening tee shot at 7.30am in the company of Ireland’s Leona Maguire and Kelly Tan of Malaysia – a drive which will mark the return of women’s golf as an Olympic sport after an absence of 116 years. Last week, the honour of the opening tee shot in the men’s competition went to another Brazilian in Adilson da Silva.

Groupings for the field of 60 include world No.1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand playing alongside Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist and Charley Hull who will representing Great Britain.  The trio tees off in Wednesday’s final starting time at 11:09am. Nordqvist and Hull will aim to have similar results as their medal-winning countrymen Henrik Stenson (silver) and Justin Rose (gold).

While Ko sits in the top-ranked position in the current world rankings and headed the Olympic qualification, No.2  Ariya Jutanugarn, fresh from her first major championship victory at the RICOH Women’s British Open two weeks ago, will represent Thailand at 10:58am with American Stacy Lewis and the Republic of Korea’s Sei Young Kim.

World No.3, Canadian Brooke Henderson, will play alongside two-time major champion Suzann Pettersen of Norway and fourth ranked Lexi Thompson of the United States at 9:14am.

Another interesting group includes former world No.1 Inbee Park.  The Korean star has been side-lined since the beginning of June with a thumb injury but has been working toward the opportunity to represent her country in Rio.  Park tees it up with American Gerina Piller and Spain’s Azahara Munoz at 9:03am.

The field also includes three amateur golfers, Maguire, Tiffany Chan of Hong Kong and Albane Valenzuela of Switzerland.  All tee times are in local time for Rio de Janeiro.

Click Here to View the Groupings Online

For more information on the PGAs of Europe Olympic Coach Rankings visit http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros

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Draw Released for Women’s Golf Competition at Rio 2016
Rose Strikes Gold on Historic Day For Golf http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/rose-strikes-gold-on-historic-day-for-golf/ Mon, 15 Aug 2016 07:01:11 +0000 International Golf Federation (IGF) http://www.pgae.com/?p=16304 Great Britain’s Justin Rose followed in the footsteps of George Lyon of Canada when he climbed onto the podium to collect theOlympic gold medal in Rio]]>

It took 112 years for golf to find a new Olympic champion, but it was well worth the wait.  Great Britain’s Justin Rose followed in the footsteps of the long-departed George Lyon of Canada when he climbed onto the podium to collect the Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro.

On a sun-drenched final day, in front of a sell-out crowd of 12,000 at Reserva de Marapendi Golf Course, Rose added the Olympic crown to his 2013 US Open title after a prolonged and exciting battle down the stretch with Sweden’s Henrik Stenson.

In the end, the packed grandstand which turned the 18th arena into a noisy sporting amphitheatre, watched spellbound as Rose got up-and-down from the side of the green for the birdie which sealed a worthy gold medal performance.

Stenson, who knew he needed to hole a 25-footer of his own to force a play-off, three-putted and the first Olympic golf competition since 1904 had a new champion.

Stenson, who emerged on top after a similarly epic shoot-out with Phil Mickelson in The Open at Royal Troon last night, had to accept second place this time and the silver medal was a deserving reward for his part in a wonderful spectacle which saw Matt Kuchar of the United States claim the bronze medal after a course record-equalling last round of 63.

Rose finished with four rounds in the sixties and his closing 67 secured the gold medal with a 16-under-par total of 268. Stenson took silver with a fourth-round 68 for 270 and Kuchar’s swashbuckling last day brought home the remaining medal on 271.

The leading three players completed the 72-hole test detached from the rest of the field, in which Belgium’s Thomas Pieters finished a highly creditable fourth after slicing 12 shots off his third-round 77 with a final day 65.

After holing out for a birdie four on the 18th, Rose punched the air in celebration and fell into the arms of his wife, Kate, before savouring the medal ceremony as the Olympic golf champion.

“Olympic gold medalist – It sounds absolutely incredible,” said the 36-year-old.  “I was on that last green, just sort of pinching myself and taking myself back to the quote that I had given about the Olympics all along – that I hoped my resumé one day read: ‘multiple major champion and Olympic gold medalist’ and if that happened then I’d be a very, very happy man.  I pretty much just need the multiple major now, but for the most part, I’m there on that quote.

“The whole week, I’ve been so focused, really, to be honest with you.  I’ve been so into it.  I’ve been so up for it.  I’ve been just so determined, I suppose, to represent Team GB as best as I could, and it was just the most magical week, it really was.”

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The final round in Rio delivered the anticipated head-to-head between two outstanding major champions. And both men held a narrow lead at different times as they exchanged birdies.

It seemed that Stenson might repeat his Open victory at Royal Troon when he edged in front due to a Rose bogey at the 13th, but he handed back the initiative to the Englishman when he bogeyed the 14th and Rose knocked in an eight-footer for birdie on the 15th.

Despite both men missing the green at the last, it was Stenson who blinked first, hitting a weak chip to 25 feet while Rose struck a deft chip close to the hole for a cast-iron birdie four.

Stenson recognised the quality of the golf on display on the final day and admitted: “When you’re in good position to try and win, you always kind of feel a little disappointed afterwards.  But at the same time, we said that all along in the Olympics, you’ve got some pretty good consolation prizes.

“I guess if you would have asked me before the week that I would leave here with a medal, I would have been pretty pleased and I managed to do that.  I’m quite happy, I didn’t feel like I played my absolute best throughout the week but I played good enough to put myself in contention and that was my goal.  Once I was up there, I played pretty well but I needed to play one or two shots better to win it today. “

Rose paid tribute to his rival and friend by saying: “I just said today that I had to out‑Stenson Stenson.  I knew I wasn’t going to get much from him at all.  Obviously the bogey at the last only came because he had to force the putt in.

“But he is unbelievable.  He’s relentless and a great player, and I can’t wait to be on the same team as him in The Ryder Cup.  He’s a great player and he’s a great friend, and I just gave him a hug on the 18th green and he was as gracious as ever. I just said to him, ‘Great summer – winning The Open Championship’, I was so pleased for him.  There are very few guys are you really genuinely, genuinely happy for, and Henrik is one of them.”

Bronze medalist Kuchar just came up short, despite equaling the record 63 set by Australian Marcus Fraser on Thursday. Had he not three putted the 16thand failed to birdie the 18th, he might just have grabbed another colour of medal.

The American Ryder Cup player said: “It’s just an amazing week. It’s a boyhood dream come true. I keep expressing the feeling of sheer pride.  I knew when I was out there playing that I was in third place.  I certainly didn’t want to lose that but also wanted to keep pushing forward.

“While I was out there, playing that back nine, the sense of being an Olympic medalist really hit me.  There were times I kind of had to back off a few times and regather my thoughts and composure to make sure I try to continue to hit good shots and keep making birdies.”

QUOTES OF THE DAY

JUSTIN ROSE: “I think it sits alongside the US Open trophy for me, for sure.  I think people want to keep comparing the two, major championship or Olympic gold, I don’t think they should be compared to one another.  I said earlier this year that if my resumé one day read “multiple major champion and Olympic gold medalist,” I would be a very, very happy man.  Just going to tag on another major now.”

HENRIK STENSON: “You play for your country and I think I did that pretty well today.  It was always going to be a battle ‑‑ or I was hoping it was going to be a battle with me and Justin for the gold and the silver, and it was in the end.  I think we both pleased to be a couple of shots ahead of Matt there coming into the last couple of holes, and it was down to the last hole and Justin just swung that a little bit quicker than me up the 18th (laughs).”

MATT KUCHAR: “I grew up a fan of sport.  I had the dreams most boys have of hoping to compete in an Olympics, hoping to win a medal.  The sport I ended up choosing was the sport that through my lifetime has not been an Olympic sport.  When it did become an Olympic sport, the lights went off and said, how amazing, I can’t believe I now potentially have the opportunity.”

JUSTIN ROSE: (on using a picture of Michael Phelps for motivation) “I think the picture sort of circulated on social media a little bit.  I think Michael Phelps is literally just doing his stroke, eyes forward, and then there’s a guy to his right kind of looking at him.  You know, part of our mentality was just to keep our eyes forward and play as hard as we could and take care of our business.  That’s what Henrik does so well.  I knew that would be a strategy that wouldn’t necessarily give me an advantage today but it would kind of ‑ it was something that was going to be very, very useful.  It was a nice, powerful image on which to work off.”

HENRIK STENSON: (comparing Olympic atmosphere to a major championship) “It is slightly different and I don’t think you necessarily need to compare, either.  It’s a whole new experience for us as golfers, participating here, and it’s been a fun one.  I’m really happy I went.  It’s memories of a lifetime being here competing, and we’re competing for our countries more than we do normally in a way.  Yeah, it’s been a nice ten days in Brazil.”

MATT KUCHAR: “To look at the support that was out here, to look at the guys that came through, won medals, I think it speaks for itself.  This event has gone over I think fantastically well.  Amazing support from the crowds.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect as far as golf in Brazil.  I didn’t think that it would have great support and it really did. If you take the broadcast and then look at what a great showdown to have these two guys battling down the end.  I don’t know that it could have gone much better for the game.  It’s a clear winner to move forward.”

For more information on the PGAs of Europe Olympic Coach Rankings visit http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros

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Rose Strikes Gold on Historic Day For Golf
Gary Player: A Shining Example to Golfers Everywhere http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/gary-player-a-shining-example-to-golfers-everywhere/ Sun, 14 Aug 2016 15:22:55 +0000 International Golf Federation (IGF) http://www.pgae.com/?p=16350 At a time when golf is crying out for a standard bearer to lead the sport, who better than a Black Knight in shining armour to ride to the rescue?]]>

Gary Player has never been one to bodyswerve a challenge. On the contrary, this extraordinary man has spent an entire career addressing head-on the vicissitudes of life and never capitulating in the face of adversity.

So, at a time when golf is crying out for a standard bearer to lead the sport into the Olympic arena after an absence of 112 years this month, who better than a Black Knight in shining armour to ride to the rescue?

Now well into his 81st year, the South African has devoted more than six of those eight pioneering decades into helping to popularise the game of golf in even the remotest dot on the planet.

Player realised a life’s ambition by marching around the running track in Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic Stadium as the deeply proud Team Leader of his homeland, alongside the four South African golfers who formed part of golf’s return to the Olympic movement.

“Golf needs a shot in the arm right now,” insisted Player, “And this will be the platform on which to convince the International Olympic Committee that golf is not just a good sport, but that we behave well and that we will embrace the public in Rio and make a point of promoting  not only golf and also the IOC.”

Player’s eyes gleam with dazzlzing intensity as he talks, in his inimitably passionate style, about the opportunity to march behind the South African flag with Jaco Van Zyl, Brandon Stone, Ashleigh Simon and Paula Reto. He believes that golf has an opportunity like never before to continue the missionary work started half a century earlier by the original ‘Big Three’ of Player, Palmer and Nicklaus.

The top three in the current World Rankings may be absent at Reserva de Marapendi Golf Course from August 11-14, but Player has no doubts how he and his legendary cohorts, Jack and Arnold, would not have missed a golden opportunity to tee up in Rio.

“It’s laughable to suggest otherwise,” he said. “When I see a professional saying he doesn’t care about the development of golf, I want to cry. I’ve spent 63 years with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus going arond the world – not getting a lot of appearence money – promoting the game of golf. Even today, at the age of 80, I keep thinking to myself: what can I do to promote the game that has done so much for me?

“I played golf all around the world in places with yellow fever, in war zones, with people wanting to kill me because of the apartheid system in South Africa. We faced all those difficulties, travelling around the world with no jet planes. It could take me 40 hours to get to America, stopping four times. I hear about (playing) schedules. Let (other players) see my schedule at the age of 80 and it’s well in excess of theirs.

“I grew up with Palmer and Nicklaus; Watson and Trevino. How differently we would have treated the whole situation. I do respect everyone’s reasons for not playing, but I would have given anything to hold, along with my 18 majors and 165 victories, an Olympic Gold Medal. It would have been a dream to get that.”

Growing up in Johannesburg, Player might have been smaller in stature than many of his contemporaries, but very few could ever match his dedication, application and almost superhuman fitness. To this day, the ‘Black Knight’ tackles fitness and diet with an almost religious zeal, revelling in a work schedule that would make a 25 year old shrink in horror. Retirement, he once reportedly said, is “a death sentence.”

Player clearly believes implicitly in the ethos of the Olympic Games as a heaven-sent vehicle to transport golf’s skills and values into uncharter territories.

“There are potentially 3.5 billion people out there watching. There is a reason why it is the biggest sporting event in the world and if ever golf needed a shot in the arm it’s right now. Henrik Stenson certainly provided that at Royal Troon a few weeks ago when he won The Open. What a boost that was, and to know we have The Open champion playing in Rio, and the Masters champion also. Let’s talk about that rather than who might be absent.”

Player continued: “The Olympics will undoubtedly grow the game worldwide, no matter who plays and who doesn’t. So many eyes will see golf on television, when they couldn’t before. Golf needs to be an Olympic sport because of its global allure and I would appeal to the IOC to treat us leniently in terms of golf’s future participation. As Winston Churchill said: ‘The youth of today are the trustees of prosperity’.”

Player nodded with quiet approval when one of his charges, Jaco Van Zyl, withdrew from The Open and the US PGA Championship in order to re-charge his batteries and focus all his mental and physical energies on reaching his peak in Rio

“I thought he came out with some powerful statements. He is the epitome of a professional golfer and I look forward to working with Jaco and the others in our South African team in Brazil. In my role, I hope to be able to help them in any way, either with their swing, or any problems which might arise, but basically to be there to encourage them as their captain to play well.”

Unlike many of the golfers competing in Rio, competing in Brazil is nothing new to Player. He has been there “many times’ and won the Brazilian Open twice in 1972 and 1974. He also, for good measure, broke 60 with a record score of 59 in the second round of the event at Gavea Golf and Country Club in Rio on November 29, 1974.

“I am the only man who has broken 60 in a national championship,” he said.

After hosting his annual Invitational event at Wentworth last month, Player flew to the city of his birth for a grand banquet and parade in Johannesburg. He took part in the street parade proudly wearing the green and gold colours of South Africa.

No-one would have radiated more pride than the golf Team Leader. If drive, determination and willpower alone could ensure that the Olympic golf competitions are successful, then Player would be  in the vanguard. South Africa have their Black Knight. Now it is up to the golfers to deliver.

For more information on the PGAs of Europe Olympic Coach Rankings visit http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros

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Gary Player: A Shining Example to Golfers Everywhere
Epic Battle in Prospect as Men’s Olympic Golf Reaches Thrilling Climax http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/epic-battle-in-prospect-as-mens-olympic-golf-reaches-thrilling-climax/ Sat, 13 Aug 2016 22:45:18 +0000 International Golf Federation (IGF) http://www.pgae.com/?p=16308 Golf will crown its first Olympic champion for 112 years in Rio de Janeiro tomorrow, as Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Marcus Fraser go for gold.]]>

Golf will crown its first Olympic champion for 112 years in Rio de Janeiro tomorrow, and all indications are that the sport will witness an epic battle for the medals at Reserva de Marapendi as Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Marcus Fraser go for gold.

Rose, the 2013 US Open champion, delivered a brilliant third round 65 to take a one-shot lead over Stenson, the reigning Open champion, in front of large and enthusiastic crowds in the Rio sunshine, many of whom might have been unfamiliar with the high quality of golf served up by the leading players.

Rose tees off last tomorrow standing at 201, 12-under-par, with Stenson’s hard-working 68 earning his second place total of 202. Fraser, who opened the competition with a course record 63 on Thursday, dug in hard to shoot a round of 72 for third place on 204. The highly motivated trio all have the glint of gold in their eye going into the home stretch of an absorbing Olympic contest.

Once again, Stenson is in contention when the big prizes are handed out. The Swede goes into the last round in second place, one stroke behind another major champion in Great Britain’s Rose, with Australian Fraser close behind.

However, the race for the gold, silver and bronze could run well beyond the final group. Major champions Bubba Watson of the United States (207) and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington (208) will be chasing a low score to post a clubhouse target to test the leaders as the quest for gold intensifies.

Rose, who bagged eagles at the third and fifth holes to soar to the top of the leaderboard, admitted it “felt great” to be in the gold medal position going into the final round.

He added: “Obviously I felt like today was an important day.  There were a lot of players in contention after yesterday and I felt like today could be a day to separate or at least keep some momentum and not give myself too much work to do tomorrow.  Obviously, this tournament has been very, very special and very, very different for all of us.”

Saturday is traditionally ‘moving day’ and that was very much in evidence in Rio. Rickie Fowler of the United States set the tone earlier in the day with a seven-under-par 64, the second lowest of the week, to climb 36 places into a tie for 14th on 210. Another low score could earn Fowler a tilt at the minor medals while his compatriot, Watson, is very much in the shake-up after a second successive 67.

Harrington matched Watson’s 67 to sit on the coat-tails of the leaders on 208 while a 66 put Finland’s Mikko Ilonen into the mix, also on 208.

Stenson, who admitted that his busy summer of contending for majors had tested his mental reserves of energy, is being kept company in the medal hunt by his fellow Swede, David Lingmerth, whose 68 for 207 propelled him ten places up the leaderboard and into the penultimate group alongside Watson and Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo (68-207).

Stenson insisted he is fully focused on winning the gold medal and commented: “In my mind, we’re still going for one thing – gold.  Even though the consolation prizes might be better here than some other events in a way, it’s still the No. 1 spot that I’m looking for and I’m going to try my hardest to make that happen.  It’s been a long and tiring stretch for me the last month, so I’m just going to try and squeeze whatever I have left in the tank for the final 18 holes.”

QUOTES OF THE DAY

Justin Rose 201 (67, 69, 65): “It’s more like a Ryder Cup than a major, but I would say it’s more unique than either of those two.  I couldn’t pigeonhole it into either category to be honest with you, and that’s been my whole approach to the Olympic Games is that you can’t compare it to anything else.

“I think it’s probably lived up to my expectations. I feel like the crowd have been a lot of fun to play in front of.  There’s been a lot of goodwill for all of the players from all different nationalities, but at the same time you have your pockets of fans that are really cheering for you.  Yeah, it’s been a fun crowd to be a part of.”

Henrik Stenson 202 (66, 68, 68): “It’s been motivating to be pushed on by some of my countrymen and women from other sports.  I’ve seen quite a lot of the handballers out there and some of the other Swedish athletes.  When you’ve got someone from your national team and another sport out there watching you play, of course you want to perform well.  That’s been good, good support.  I think it’s been decent crowds out there and good atmosphere.  Of course there’s quite a few fans that are new to golf and all the rest of it.  But all in all, I think that’s been very good.”

Marcus Fraser 204 (63, 69, 72): (on how many people have reached out to him from Australia) “A heap of people to be honest.  It’s been overwhelming.  Social media has been going into meltdown on the phone.  I haven’t got very many followers as it is, but I think I’ve picked up about an extra 400 this week (laughs).  I might hang around next week in Rio and keep going, it’s great. “

Bubba Watson 207 (73, 67, 67): “I’ve been treating this different than any other tournament.  I mean, this is the Olympics.  This is the greatest sporting event that you can ever be associated with.  Look at these athletes that are here; this is every sportsman in the world’s dream to be here, and now that golf is in here, I’m a kid in a candy store.  And I’m not saying that because I own a candy store. But this is a dream of a lifetime.”

Emiliano Grillo 207 (70, 69, 68): (on thinking about winning a medal) “Oh, yeah, of course.  I’ve been thinking since we knew that golf was going to be in the Olympics.  It’s been a nice week.  It’s been an unbelievable experience, and I honestly cannot wait to get it done tomorrow.”

David Lingmerth 207 (69, 70, 68):  “It’s a pretty cool experience here, especially being the first ones back for golf here.  It was a really cool feeling Thursday morning to get to tee off.  I had an earlier tee time than Henrik, so I was the first Swede to tee off in the Olympic tournament here.  It was something I thought of that I feel is pretty special.  It’s been a great week, just the atmosphere around here, the village, and out on the golf course, as well, it’s been cool.”

Padraig Harrington 208 (70, 71, 67): “Look, we’re all trying to win the gold.  Second and third are great when you get them, but we’re all trying to win the gold, no doubt about it.  As I said before, every week, 156 guys tee it up, you have one winner and 155 losers.  This week, 60 guys have teed it up and we’re all Olympians, we’re all winners.  Everybody will walk away from this feeling like they have achieved something this week.”

Matt Kuchar 208 (69, 70, 69): “I guess it’s yet to be seen until this thing is wrapped up how it’s looked at.  But from fan support from other athletes that I’ve run across, everybody is kind of excited that we’re here. I think it’s awesome. I think the further golf goes in the Olympics, the more times it’s played, I think the more support it will get and the more excitement guys will have.  I think the opportunity to play for your country, whether it’s a team of two, a team of four, whatever you can do, this has been just such a great experience and it’s just going to continue to grow and grow and grow.”

Rickie Fowler 210 (75, 71, 64): “It’s definitely a different vibe at the Olympics, and having other athletes come out and watch and being able to go watch other athletes compete, it’s a special, special week, and something I’m going to remember forever.”

Jaco Van Zyl 215 (71, 74, 70): (on making a hole-in-one on the 8th hole) “The pin was cut back left just over that trap there, and I just absolutely pured a 7‑iron, and it looked in the moment it came off the face. I hit it to about three inches there on the same hole in the first round – and I chatted to my caddie and I said, ‘there’s something special going in the Olympics’, and lo and behold, two rounds later, we managed to hole in one.”

For more information on the PGAs of Europe Olympic Coach Rankings visit http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros

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Epic Battle in Prospect as Men’s Olympic Golf Reaches Thrilling Climax
McGinley’s Rallying Call: Embrace the Olympics http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/mcginleys-rallying-call-embrace-the-olympics/ Sat, 13 Aug 2016 15:45:02 +0000 International Golf Federation (IGF) http://www.pgae.com/?p=16356 The winning 2014 Ryder Cup Captain is fully behind the Olympic Golf message and his Irish contingent...]]>

Anyone who listened to Paul McGinley’s impassioned rhetoric during his inspired captaincy of Europe’s Ryder Cup team in 2014 will appreciate that here is a man who doesn’t take his responsibilities lightly.

When the Irishman accepts a challenge, the commitment is total. No half measures. No cutting corners. A forensic examination or nothing. So when the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCL) approached him about acting as Team Leader for his country’s golfers at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, McGinley was unswerving in his determination to assist the Irish cause.

He is equally steadfast in his belief that the sport of golf not only deserves its place in the Olympic movement again, it has every right to be there. Even the disappointment of Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry’s decisions not to compete in Rio have failed to diminish his enthusiasm for the impending trip to South America.

“Of course there is disappointment that golf is not going to showcase a number of the premier players at the Olympics,” he admitted. “However, I still believe implicitly that it is going to be a great event with a lot of very high quality players taking part. We are there, and we’re relevant.

“I absolutely refuse to see the small picture when it comes to golf in the Olympics. There is a massive opportunity for the sport and its players. I am fully energised by its return to the Olympic Games. I feel it’s really important for the the game that we embrace it and that the sport puts on a great show.”

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McGinley made have lost a sprinkling of stardust by the absence of McIlroy and Lowry from the Irish roster, but the 49-year-old Dubliner is excited to be fulfilling the role of Team Leader for a talented trio led by Padraig Harrington, the up-and-coming Seamus Power and the precociously talented amateur Leona Maguire and professional Stephanie Meadow in the women’s competition.

“We shouldn’t be reluctant to embrace new horizons,” he continued. “It is easy to dismiss golf as an Olympic sport and at the same time belittle the value of winning a gold medal compared to winning a major. To do so leaves one open to being accused of insularity, so let’s look at the big picture and broaden our horizons and views.

“Professional golf at the elite level camouflages the immense challenges faced by those at grassroots and amateur levels. We are now being offered the opportunity to showcase golf at the biggest, most-watched sporting event in the world. Let’s grasp it.”

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Whereas McGinley adopted a highly scientific approach to his Ryder Cup captaincy at Gleneagles two years ago, he is more laid back – although no less professional – in his preparation for the role as Irish golf’s Team Leader.

He explained: “The OCL members know about the Olympics but they didn’t necessarily know too much about golf and golfers. I think they saw me as a conduit between them and the golfers; someone who knows what golfers need and how they think.

“I had no hesitation in accepting the role. The offer came just three months after the Ryder Cup and I had no misgivings. I wanted to do it, and I wanted to leave a legacy for Ireland’s future golf participation in the Olympics.

“I talked a lot in the Ryder Cup about enhancing the successfull European template as I handed over to future captains,  and I view this role in much the same way. I hope to create a template which leaves a legacy to help the national bodies in future years, by helping to integrate golf into being an Olympic sport from an Irish perspective.”

From being a master tactician at Gleneagles, McGinley is content to downsize that element of the job during the Olympic Games at Reserva de Marapendi Golf Course in Rio.

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“I see myself more as a facilitator,” he said. “My wish is to help the players get to Rio, play their event and return home in a seamless fashion. There are so many more things going on at the Olympics – accreditation, security, drug testing – all sorts of new red tape golers might not be familiar with. The drug policy , for example, is different and very complex and we want to make sure that we fully understand and comprehend Olympic policy.. The Irish Olympic Committee have given me a lot of guidance on that issue.”

Never one to miss a trick McGinley visited Brazil for the official Test Event at the Olympic course in March. He absorbed information like a sponge, all designed to assist his charges when they arrive for the competition.

“I had never been to Brazil and I had only experienced the Olympics in London as a fan,” he said. “I wanted to know what to expect. I was with the Olympic Council of Ireland so I learned a lot from them about the Olympic Village and how things work. I wanted to know how far the course is from the transport and accommodation links and to establish what sort of examination paper the course would be. It was a useful recce, on course and off.”

McGinley will be reunited with Harrington, his co-winner of the World Cup of Golf in 1997 and a close Ryder Cup colleague and friend. That news comes as considerable compensation for the loss of McIlroy.

“He’s a great addition to the team, not just as a golfer but for the Irish athletes in other sports. Padraig is a massively popular sportsman in Ireland and he will be around other athletes, attending other events and being with them in the Village. I know he is going to embrace not just the golf but the whole two weeks and soak it in.

“Seamus is a strong up-and-coming player and he will benefit as well from being around Padraig. He’s very energised. I’ve spent time getting to know Leona and it will be something new and exciting to be involved in the women’s competition as well. Leona is unique in so far as she is one of three amatures who have qualified to respresent her country at golf in Olympics.”

McGinley understands the ‘pure sporting theatre’ of the Olympics, and adheres to the Olympics ideals.

“A gold medal is important – but participating even more so. My wish is that the golfers will go out and represent their country, their people and their sport in a manner that will help grow the game for future generations.”

For more information on the PGAs of Europe Olympic Coach Rankings visit http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros

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For up-to-the-minute information on #OlympicGolf and regular updates, please follow us on Twitter (@OlympicGolf), FacebookInstagram and YouTube.

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McGinley’s Rallying Call: Embrace the Olympics
Aussie Rules as Fraser Claims Olympic First Round Lead http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/aussie-rules-as-fraser-claims-olympic-first-round-lead/ Fri, 12 Aug 2016 07:01:02 +0000 International Golf Federation (IGF) http://www.pgae.com/?p=16281 After a 112-year absence golf is back in the Olympics and Australia's Marcus Fraser leads through Round 01]]>

On a momentous day when golf was reunited with the Olympic movement after a 112-year absence, Australian Marcus Fraser leads the men’s competition after shooting the lowest score of a thrilling opening day, which saw Justin Rose capture the first hole-in-one in Olympic history.

As a new era dawned for the sport amid the colossal carnival which represents sport’s greatest show on earth – putting a huge smile on the face of golf – it was 38-year-old Fraser from Melbourne who took command by firing an eight-under-par 63 to grab the first round lead.

The bounce in Fraser’s step was unmistakable as he laughed, “We were just saying: ‘I’ve got the Olympic record’.  That’s pretty cool, and hopefully that lasts all week.”

Fraser claimed nine birdies over the purpose-built Olympic course at Reserva de Marapendi to open up a three-stroke lead over Open champion Henrik Stenson and Canadian Graham DeLaet as the 60 newest and proudest Olympic athletes set the tone for a potentially epic few days’ play in Rio.

Fittingly, it was a 44-year-old Brazilian, Adilson da Silva, who was handed the honour of striking the first Olympic golf shot in the modern era at 7.30am, a time when most of the swimmers, gymnasts, boxers and beach volleyball heroes were tucked up in the Olympic Village.

It was also appropriate that the first three-ball of the Olympic competition contained DeLaet, whose countryman, George Lyon, was the last person to capture a precious gold medal in the dying embers of golf’s last flirtation with the Olympics 112 years previously.

DeLaet was aware of the Canadian connection as he flexed his competitive muscles with an outstanding round of 66, five-under-par and observed: “We said as we were walking off the first tee that this is pretty cool – the first time in over a hundred years – and we’re the lead group.  It was nice.”

As the day unfolded, and more new Olympians were established with every passing tee time, it was clear that golf was savouring its return to Olympic prominence. The quality of the play reflected that.

Rose enjoyed the feeling of recording the first hole-in-one of the new Olympic era, as his seven iron from 189 yards disappeared into the hole at the fourth.

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“Definitely one of those icing on the cake moments, when you’re the first to do anything, no one can ever take that away from you, whatever it is,” said Rose, who is tied for fourth at four under par.  “That was definitely a cool moment.”

DeLaet admitted he was inspired by meeting the Canadian women who won the first bronze in Rugby Sevens. He said: “We went to the Canada House on Tuesday night and the Rugby Sevens girls were with us on the bus going over there, and they had their Bronze Medals when they got there.

“You know, we got to hold it.  We took a picture with the girls and that’s when it really kind of became real to me how amazing it would be to get that chunk of medal.  Obviously gold would be incredible, but I think bringing home anything would be really, really special.  I know that countries always count medals, so to be able to add to what Canada can rack up would be pretty awesome.”

Stenson, who won his first major at Royal Troon last month, racked up six birdies and one bogey in his 66 to join DeLaet in second spot, with Justin Rose of Great Britain among a group of five players on 67, four under par.

He admitted that confidence is still high after his Open win and said: “Hopefully confidence doesn’t wear off that easily, but more than anything, I’m just focusing on my game and what I need to do, and I feel like I’ve got pretty good control over most areas of my game, what I need to focus on. It was all about trying to get some energy back.  Days like these are tiring, playing in these conditions.”

Quotes of the day:

Marcus Fraser 63 (-8): “I think this is probably one of the best rounds of golf I’ve ever played, given the circumstances, I was quite edgy and a bit jumpy on the first tee, because it’s such a big occasion to be here at the Olympics.  To manage that and go on to play the way I did is really pleasing and a big confidence boost.

“Tapping in on the 18th, when the three-footer went in, I looked down there, and grabbed my ball out of the hole. It’s something I’ll never forget, because it’s pretty special to be able to shoot that score in the first round that golf is back in the Olympics.”

Graham DeLaet 66 (-5): “I was a little bit nervous actually.  You know, we do this for a living week‑in, week‑out, but there was something different about that first tee shot today.  It was a different announcement for us, and it was just a really cool feeling.

“I was playing with a Brazilian (Adilson da Silva) and that was neat.  We had a lot of people out there, especially for 7.30 in the morning – more than I anticipated.  It was a lot of fun.  We said as we were walking off the first tee; ‘this is pretty cool, first time in over a hundred years, and we’re kind of the lead group’.  It was nice.

Gregory Bourdy 67 (-4): “It’s an amazing experience to be here, playing an Olympic Games, It was really one of my biggest goals for the last few years to be here and to perform, to play well.  I’m very happy to start my Olympics with a score of four under. I think it’s already a special atmosphere, because usually, as I said, we play individually and we are not listening too much to French cheering ‘Allez les Bleus’!”

Nicolas Colsaerts 68 (-3): It would mean a lot on a personal point of view and also a national point of view.  It would be a dream come true.  It’s not the first time golf is here, but it will pretty much feel like it, in the modern era, anyway.  I feel honored to be here.  I really feel proud to be on that list of players that have supported the event.”

Matt Kuchar 69 (-2): “The nerves don’t get me in very many places.  Here it was a little different.  Teeing off in particular. I think I was the first American to tee off today and to hear my name announced as an Olympian (meant) there were a few more butterflies than I anticipated on the first tee.”

Matteo Manassero 69 (-2): “When I hit the first tee shot, I thought: ‘okay, I’m officially an Olympic athlete’ and that was a good feeling.  We (have been) trying our best to get golf to look as great as it is in the biggest sports stage there is.  It’s a good responsibility, and also we’re having a lot of fun and it’s great to be here.”

Padraig Harrington 70 (-1): “I would say I was more nervous on the first tee ‑ as much as I would have been when I played my first major.  It was very exciting.  I said it to the guys walking off, now we are Olympians and nobody can take that away from us.  When you think about it, most weeks, you have 156 guys playing, 155 losers. This week, you have 60 guys playing, and we are all winners.”

Adilson da Silva 72 (+1): “Before I teed off, my head was everywhere….just don’t goof this!  But just towards the end, I managed to calm myself down and focus to what I wanted to do.  And I have been hitting my driver well, so I think I committed to the shot and I hit a nice one there.”

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For up-to-the-minute information on #OlympicGolf and regular updates, please follow us on Twitter (@OlympicGolf)Facebook.

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Aussie Rules as Fraser Claims Olympic First Round Lead
Olympic PGA Pros Q&A – Pete Cowen & Henrik Stenson http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/olympic-pga-pros-qa-pete-cowen-henrik-stenson/ Thu, 11 Aug 2016 07:37:44 +0000 PGAs of Europe http://www.pgae.com/?p=16265 Our Olympic Coach Q&A catches up with Henrik Stenson's coach, Pete Cowen...]]>

The PGAs of Europe caught up with coach The Open Champion, Henrik Stenson’s, coach, Pete Cowen (PGA of GB&I), to find out more about how they work together and how Cowen feels about coaching so many champions…

“I’ve worked with Henrik now for 15 years and he’s had two very big ups and downs in his career so obviously he’s come back from those – he’s a pretty strong character.

“He wants to be perfect – he’s got three types of hitting the ball which is good, very good and perfect, and he can’t accept good and very good so you’re knocking two thirds out, whereas he could win on all three if he wants.  He’s a total one-off that you have to be very careful how you actually phrase it to him – he’s totally different to everyone else.

“With everybody what you’re trying to do is constant improvement of the same thing…and again discipline, practice so they know that when they’re stood on the first tee under the most extreme pressure it works – that’s what coaching is all about, giving them the tools so they can say well I don’t have to think about this they can just do it.

“Whereas a lot of people that are over-coached will actually start thinking about ‘how will I do this?’, but the great players will just do it and play with the game they have on that day.”

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The PGAs of Europe Olympic PGA Professional Coach Hub is a first-of-its-kind Olympics page (http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros) that aims to and celebrate coaching and shine a light on the PGA Professionals from around the world that are supporting, or have supported, the 120 male and female potential qualifiers for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games

Each Player-PGA Professional section contains details about their relationship, key links to find out more about both the potential Olympic qualifier and their associated PGA Professional, along with interviews and features with many of them.

For more information on the PGAs of Europe Olympic Coach Rankings visit http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros

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Olympic PGA Pros Q&A – Pete Cowen & Henrik Stenson
Olympic PGA Pros Q&A – Peter Wolfenstetter & Thongchai Jaidee http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/olympic-pga-pros-qa-peter-wolfenstetter-thongchai-jaidee/ Thu, 11 Aug 2016 07:09:41 +0000 PGAs of Europe http://www.pgae.com/?p=16260 Coach to Thongchai Jaidee, Peter Wolfenstetter, answers the Olympic Coach Q&A...]]>

PGA of Germany Teacher of the Year, Peter Wolfenstetter, has worked alongside Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee for over 12 years and is travelling to Rio as the Thai Team Coach.

Explain a bit about how you began working with your athlete and when that was.

PW: 12 years ago there was a friend of mine whointroduced me to Thongchai when he was playing the BMW tournament in Munich and then we started working together a little bit and after that we started our partnership.

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What are the key things you are going to work on to prepare your athlete for the Olympic Games?

PW: What we want to do is to play every week the best we can and I think we will not do anything special.  But the week before I will fly to Asia and we will be practicing together.

When he is good and in form there is no need to change a lot but we will make sure he’s playing his best form when he’s in the Olympics.

I think it’s definitely a special event – 100 years I think since it was in the Olympics and it’s special and we have been talking a lot about what we are doing, what’s going on, how we are working and now we have made a plan and I think we’re on a good path.

How will you stay in touch with your athlete during the Olympic Games?

PW: I am very happy that the Thai Olympic Committee have involved me so I will be going with my player and I am very happy about this.

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What does it mean to you to be working with a potential Olympic qualifier?

PW: I think it’s very special and there’s not too many players and not too many coaches that can go to the Olympics…for me it’s bigger than a Masters or a major.

You meet a lot of different sports and athletes and you can talk with all the coaches and I think it is a totally different atmosphere than when we go to the Open Championship or something like that.

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What do you think the impact of Olympic Golf will be?

PW: Most of the time I see him between the end of Novemeber and then at Abu Dhabi again. But during the year I think I am in contact with him most of the time and he sends me videos.

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The PGAs of Europe Olympic PGA Professional Coach Hub is a first-of-its-kind Olympics page (http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros) that aims to and celebrate coaching and shine a light on the PGA Professionals from around the world that are supporting, or have supported, the 120 male and female potential qualifiers for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games

Each Player-PGA Professional section contains details about their relationship, key links to find out more about both the potential Olympic qualifier and their associated PGA Professional, along with interviews and features with many of them.

For more information on the PGAs of Europe Olympic Coach Rankings visit http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros

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Olympic PGA Pros Q&A – Peter Wolfenstetter & Thongchai Jaidee
Olympic Coaches – Michel Vanmeerbeek & Nicolas Colsaerts http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/olympic-coaches-michel-vanmeerbeek-nicolas-colsaerts/ Wed, 10 Aug 2016 09:24:11 +0000 PGAs of Europe http://www.pgae.com/?p=15224 Our Olympic Coach Q&A shines a spotlight on Belgium's Potential Olympic Qualifier, Nicolas Colsaerts, and his coach Michel Vanmeerbeek...]]>

Michel Vanmeerbeek (PGA of Belgium) has been working with Nicolas Colsaerts since 1990 when Colsaerts was 8 years old. Known today as a swing engineer, Vanmeerbeek developed his skills by visiting the best swing experts in the USA and in Europe and was also been coach of the Belgian National Golf Teams from 2002 to 2006, and is also the Olympic Coach for Nicolas Colsaerts heading to Rio 2016.

Colsaerts has two European Tour wins under his belt and has represented Europe in both the Seve Trophy and the Ryder Cup, notably playing his part in the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ in 2012. The Colsaerts family have close Olympic ties as Nicolas’ grandfather represented Belgium in the Olympic Games as well.

PGA PROFESSIONAL COACH: MICHEL VANMEERBEEK

Explain a bit about how you began working with your athlete and when that was.

MV: It was around 1990, Nicolas was 8 years old and at the second we met, it clicked between us. The love of Sport is a passion we share. And he had great hand-eye coordination. Since then, I studied deeply the technique and went to see the best coaches all over the world in order to build Nicolas’ ball striking and to help him the best I could.

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What are the key things you are going to work on to prepare your athlete for the Olympic Games?

MV: Well, his usual strong assets need to be strong. In Rio, it will be a 4-day sprint on an new course that nobody knows better than anyone else. To perform well, an athlete needs to feel that he’s strong and well prepared. So, we will focus on his strengths: ball striking, driving, long irons…

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Have you changed anything technically or even just operationally with your athlete to help prepare or to aid their qualification hopes?

MV: No, no, certainly no changes or new elements during the season. Changes need to be done after the season. Nicolas already knows all the shots, it’s a matter of confidence that starts with working his basics: posture, take away and rhythm.

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What advice will you be giving them about competing on a wider global stage than perhaps ever before with an approximate 3.6billion viewers across the world?

MV: Do what you’re good at! Don’t try silly strategies or shots you’re not really confortable with.

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How will you stay in touch with your athlete during the Olympic Games?

MV: I’ll be there as coach of Nicolas Colsaerts inside the Belgium Team, in the Olympic Village and on the course!

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What does it mean to you to be working with a potential Olympic qualifier?

MV: Majors, Rio 2016, European Tour Tournaments or WGC’s, it’s the same preparation, no fancy issues to be implemented.

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How do you work with your athlete on a day-to-day basis?

MV: With Nicolas, I travel to tournaments several times a year but we have training camps through the year where we really work deeply on the game.

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What impact do you think golf being in the 2016 Olympics will have on the sport?

MV: I hope a boost in the demand by the youth and a development in public infrastructures in our country!

OLYMPIC ATHLETE: NICOLAS COLSAERTS

What does the prospect of being able to represent your country and make history at the Olympic Games mean to you?

NC: I have a Grandfather who attended 3 Olympic Games – So it’s in our family genes, that means it’s very important and special to me.

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What makes your relationship with your coach a success and a benefit to your game?

NC: We have a long time relationship, he knows my swing better than I do, together we have already accomplished great achievements in many years.

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How important have they been in your existing/current development as an athlete?

NC: Michel is a thinker in sport, he’s not only an engineer of the golf swing, he‘s also capable of coaching any athlete in any sport, and that’s remarkable.

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How are they going to help you prepare for the Olympics?

NC: Everything is already decided since November last year: when to compete, when to rest and when to train… The plan is made… we need a medal now!

What are you most looking forward to about potentially competing in the Olympics?

NC: Being part of the event and participating at the Opening ceremony will be unforgettable. I’m really looking forward to it.

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How have you worked/will you work with your coach to prepare for the Games?

NC: We are used to preparing for great tournaments, so we know pretty well how to arrive at a peak moment.

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What impact do you think golf being in the 2016 Olympics will have on the sport?

NC: I hope it will be huge; otherwise it will make no sense if the promotion of the sport is not gaining a strong support.

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How important is it to you that your coach is a PGA Professional?

NC: It’s important to me, but I’m always surprised how people do not understand how good he is with all that experience he has developed through the years. I’m always surprised to hear that so few juniors come to have coaching. In another country, he would be in all magazines, so I think he is really under-rated.

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The PGAs of Europe Olympic PGA Professional Coach Hub is a first-of-its-kind Olympics page (http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros) that aims to and celebrate coaching and shine a light on the PGA Professionals from around the world that are supporting, or have supported, the 120 male and female potential qualifiers for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games

Each Player-PGA Professional section contains details about their relationship, key links to find out more about both the potential Olympic qualifier and their associated PGA Professional, along with interviews and features with many of them.

For more information on the PGAs of Europe Olympic Coach Rankings visit http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros

Images courtesy of Michel Vanmeerbeek/Vincent Borremans and Action Images
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Olympic Coaches – Michel Vanmeerbeek & Nicolas Colsaerts
PGAs of Europe Olympic Coach Hub Shines Spotlight on PGA Professionals http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/pgas-of-europe-olympic-coach-hub-shines-spotlight-on-pga-professionals/ Wed, 10 Aug 2016 07:00:08 +0000 PGAs of Europe http://www.pgae.com/?p=15374 The PGAs of Europe have launched an Olympics-focused hub aiming to shine a light on PGA Professionals that support the 2016 Olympic Golf potential qualifiers...]]>

The PGAs of Europe have launched an Olympics-focused hub with the support of the International Golf Federation (IGF) that aims to celebrate coaching and shine a light on the PGA Professionals from around the world that are supporting, or have supported, the 120 male and female potential qualifiers for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in August.

Of the 60 men and 60 women that will qualify from over 40 countries around the globe, of which over 45 are currently from Europe, the vast majority are currently supported by a PGA Professional as a swing coach, or will have been in the past, from across the PGAs of Europe’s Member Countries.

The Association has produced a first-of-its-kind Olympics-focused hub page at PGAE.com (http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros) that details all 120 potential qualifiers as they jostle for position in the coming months, alongside the PGA professionals they work with, as well as up to date Olympic Golf news and features.

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Within each Player-PGA Professional section are details about their relationship, key links to find out more about both the potential Olympic qualifier and their associated PGA Professional and/or PGA Professionals that have worked with them throughout their development, along with interviews and features with many of them.

“On the current Olympic rankings Europe has by far the most representatives and many from our Member Countries are currently in line to compete in both the male and female events,” said PGAs of Europe Chief Executive, Ian Randell.

“This is testament to all involved in golf in those countries, especially the PGAs and Federations, and provides the opportunity for the PGAs of Europe to celebrate the coaches who have supported these players all along their golfing roads to Rio.”

Antony Scanlon, Executive Director of the IGF, said: “There will be many great stories on the Road to Rio as the 60 men and 60 women attempt to be the first Olympic golf champion in 112 years. Almost without exception, those players will have worked closely with a PGA Professional coach during their development from aspiring amateurs to top professionals.

“It is important that we not only celebrate the achievements of the golfers, but also the huge behind-the-scenes support of the PGAs of Europe and their Members. As the Olympics draw nearer, the IGF is delighted to be associated with the PGAs of Europe and to support the Olympics-focused online hub.”

As the 2016 Olympics draw nearer, further interviews and features will be added to the site to help celebrate these vital relationships and delve deeper into what makes these new Olympic heroes tick.

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There are already features on the page looking at potential qualifiers Klara Spilkova (Czech Republic) and her coach, Keith Williams (PGA of Great Britain & Ireland), Nicolas Colsaerts (Belgium) and his coach Michel Vanmeerbeek (PGA of Belgium), along with Fabienne In-Albon (Switzerland) and her coach, Stefan Gort (PGA of Switzerland).

Whilst specific PGA Professionals are mentioned, and of course some players choose not to work with a coach, it must also be said that almost all of the players in the 120 qualification positions will have had some contact during their careers as golfers with other PGA professionals, conditioning experts, psychologists, nutritionists and many other individuals who should all be saluted for their efforts in helping their players reach this golfing pinnacle.

Visit the Olympic Coach Hub at: http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros

Images courtesy of Stefan Gort/Fabienne In-Albon, Action Images/Michel Vanmeerbeek/Vincent Borremans, & Keith Williams
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PGAs of Europe Olympic Coach Hub Shines Spotlight on PGA Professionals
Why the Olympics Reign in Spain http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/why-the-olympics-reign-in-spain/ Tue, 09 Aug 2016 15:11:05 +0000 International Golf Federation (IGF) http://www.pgae.com/?p=16289 When the first tee shot in 112 years is struck, one remarkable lady will be watching at home in Madrid and permit herself a very deserved, satisfied smile.]]>

When the first tee shot in 112 years is struck at 07.30 on Thursday morning, one remarkable lady will be watching on television at home in Madrid and permit herself a very deserved, satisfied smile.

For two decades, Emma Villacieros campaigned vigorously for golf’s return as an Olympic sport. In typically determined fashion, she never took no for an answer and led a resolute and unwavering campaign as the then President of the Royal Spanish Golf Federation to make good her pledge.

Now well into her 85th year, Villacieros is unable to make the journey from Spain to Brazil to witness first-hand the fruits of her labour, but her successor as President, Gonzaga Escauriaza, admits that the formidable lady in question deserves to be lauded.

“It was Emma who set the ball rolling,” he said. “She was very determined to take golf back into the Olympic Games. She formed an alliance with Claude Cartier of the French Federation back in the 1990s and from the outset she was very tenacious. She never relented in her quest and it was that strong-minded tenacity which kept the issue alive, even at times when it seemed to be dead.”

Villacieros also had a close affiliation with another powerful Spaniard, Juan Antonio Samaranch, the President of the International Olympic Committee from 1980 to 2001. She lobbied hard for golf to be restored to the Olympic movement and used her powers of persuasion to get Samaranch on board.

Escaurazia, who succeeded Villacieros as President in 2008 following a 20-year spell in which she sat at the top table of Spanish golf, continued: “She never relented and started talking to the different Tours, The R&A and the USGA at every available opportunity. At every World Amateur Team Championship she would raise the subject again and again and again.

“Emma and Claude convinced the USGA and The R&A of the possibilities and what happened next was they talked to the different Tours to get the calendars sorted. We knew the IOC wanted professionals from the beginning and then Samaranch took a strong role in helping us, which led to the creation of the IGF to lead the route back into the Olympics.”

Escauriaza believes that his predecessor’s unwavering commitment came from a simple philosophy. He said: “Spain is quite a sports-oriented country but golf was considered very elitist at that time. The only way to bring the game to everybody in Spain was through the Olympic Games.

“People consider a sport in the Olympics as a sport for everybody. We have coverage this month on terrestrial television as opposed to pay TV. Everybody can see the golf, not just people who pay money for the privilege. All Spaniards can watch the game at the highest level and hopefully take an interest. Of course, it is very good publicity to promote the game and broaden horizons.”

The Real Federacion Espanola de Golf, to give the Federation its native language title, has appointed two greats of Spanish golf as Team Leaders in Rio – Ryder Cup star Manuel Pinero and Marta Figuerar-Dotti, both of whom won a clutch of titles on the men’s and women’s Tours.

“We are excited to have Manuel and Marta as part of the delegation, and we know the players are also thrilled to be playing” added Escaurazia. “Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello are great ambassadors for our country in the men’s game and Azahara Munoz and Carlota Ciganda on the women’s Tours. Maybe they have not won majors yet, but what a prize an Olympic Gold would be.”

No-one would feel a greater sense of pride, should that occur, than Emma Villacieros.

Her successor concluded: “She will be watching very proudly. She knows she has played a part in golf coming back into the Olympic Games. It needed somebody to grab hold of the issue and take it forward. There was no-one better than Emma.”

For more information on the PGAs of Europe Olympic Coach Rankings visit http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros

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For up-to-the-minute information on #OlympicGolf and regular updates, please follow us on Twitter (@OlympicGolf), FacebookInstagram and YouTube.

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Why the Olympics Reign in Spain
Olympic Coaches – Phil Allen & Joost Luiten http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/olympic-coaches-phil-allen-joost-luiten/ Tue, 09 Aug 2016 08:50:02 +0000 PGAs of Europe http://www.pgae.com/?p=16005 Our Olympic Coach Q&A shines a spotlight on the Netherland's Olympic Qualifier, Joost Luiten, and his coach Phil Allen...]]>

PGA of Great Britain & Ireland Professional, Phil Allen, and European Tour Member and the Netherland’s Olympic Qualifier, Joost Luiten, have been working together for over 16 years and have developed a working relationship that brings both the seriousness of competitive play and technical knowledge together with fun and friendship to build a successful team.

Here Joost and Phil talk more about how their relationship developed, how they work together on a day-to-day basis, as well as more about how they both feel about Olympic Golf and its potential impact on the sport.

PGA PROFESSIONAL COACH: PHIL ALLEN

Explain a bit about how you began working with your athlete and when that was.

PA: I started working with Joost 16 years ago – his father asked me if I could have a look and we started talking about him as a golfer.  I saw him once and we looked at the mechanics and I said if you want to become European Tour [level] then certain things need to happen.

He was actually hypermobile so I worked together with a physical coach to tighten him up and make it easier to produce a golf swing.

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What are the key things you are going to work on to prepare your athlete for the Olympic Games?

PA: For the Olympics then we’re going to look at base level fundamentals for putting and the short game – the weaker areas of the game.  We’ll make sure balance is correct, eye-line is correct, especially for the putting scenario to keep a consistent strike on the ball.  For the short game then understanding the arc of the golf club, the strike on the ball and the reaction around that.

We’ll treat the Olympics the same as a Major and I think it is very important we look at it as a major event because it’s something big in the golf world and the first time, and I want to [make sure] we get our chances to get a medal.

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What advice will you be giving them about competing on a wider global stage than perhaps ever before with an approximate 3.6billion viewers across the world?

PA: There are globally a lot more people watching the Olympics than a standard tour event or major, but at the end of the day it is a camera that is going to be behind Joost.  It’s the guys out there that are giving the cheers and the screaming and shouting, that’s what gives a golfer the goosebumps, especially in a tournament on the final day coming down the last stretch if you’re leading.

But if Joost stays Joost and stays in his moment then I don’t really see that being a big difference – at the end of the day it’s still a golf event that we train and train and train for…to get to this moment.  I’m quite confident that if he can keep passive within himself then it’s just going to be the same as if we [would] win a major; it’s going to be great.

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How will you stay in touch with your athlete during the Olympic Games?

PA: I’ll be present at the Olympics, I’ll be in the village together with the other coaches of Team NL and with Joost, and so we’ll be pretty much the same as every event.  We’ll be looking at what’s happening in the other events to see how they prepare – it’s not just using this as an event but I want to see why/how certain sportspeople warm up and prepare and maybe adopt that into our future training and preparations for events.

Being present there is a key as well because we’ll be doing something for the first time together, especially after 16 years of working together.

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What does it mean to you to be working with a potential Olympic qualifier?

PA: It has got to be the biggest kick there is – I’ve already had in Holland a coaching dinner where I met other coaches and asked so many questions out of curiosity about what they do in their sports.  You still can’t think it’s a reality…you won’t realise it until you’re there and you could say it’s like a dream until it happens.

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What do you think the impact of Olympic Golf will be?

PA: Because it’s going on unpaid television then we’re going to hit more viewers – for myself then it’s getting the sport out there more.

We’ve got to look at Rio as a first and if it continues it will be great, but we’ve got to get the sport growing again.  We’ve got a lot of golf pros out there and not enough golfers so I really hope we can get a positive out of it…if the globe works together to promote our sport then everyone wins.

OLYMPIC ATHLETE: JOOST LUITEN

What does the prospect of being able to represent your country and make history at the Olympic Games mean to you?

JL: For me it’s an honour to be the first Dutch golfer going to the Olympics…hopefully we can have a good week there and try and get a medal.  I think it would be great for golf in Holland and great for the general sport.

For me personally as well it’s something you dream of – as a kid when you’re watching the Olympics you want to compete yourself.  We could never compete in the Olympics because golf wasn’t an [Olympic] sport but now golf is in there so I’m really looking forward to going there, trying to get a medal and do something good for the sport.

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What makes your relationship with your coach a success and a benefit to your game?

JL: I think we became friends over the years that we worked together.  When I started working with him I had this click together and we have a lot of fun together.  I think that’s the key, you need to have fun together.  You can be very serious but you can also be two little kids fooling around on the putting or chipping green.  That’s what I really like about Phil you know; you can always have a good laugh with him.

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How important have they been in your existing/current development as an athlete?

JL: Very important, when I was 16 I came to Phil and I was a good golfer but I wasn’t very good technically, I was all about feel.  Phil really started to work on the technical side, getting the positions right in the golf swing and really preparing myself for playing European Tour golf.

I don’t think I would be here if I hadn’t have met Phil back in the day because he really made sure that my game went forward and I prepared myself for professional golf.  Before that time I was a good player but I was nowhere close to making it as a professional.  That’s still what we do – work on the technical things, the positions in the golf swing and a lot of the stuff that we worked on then is still the stuff we work on now.

How are they going to help you prepare for the Olympics?

JL: I would say it’s business as usual. Yeah of course it’s a bit different because there is more stuff going on around the Olympics but the preparation for the golf will be the same. We will work on the same things, do the same things on the practice days – because it’s the Olympics you don’t change it, if you can change for the Olympics then you can change for every week. We’ll do the preparation and be ready for Thursday.

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What are you most looking forward to about potentially competing in the Olympics?

JL: I’m most looking forward to seeing the whole thing around the golf. The golf is the golf – 72-hole strokeplay – but I am very curious to see the other sports, the Olympic Village, just everything around it. I want to really take in those experiences like the opening ceremony – that’s something very new for us and something I really want to enjoy and see.

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What impact do you think golf being in the 2016 Olympics will have on the sport?

JL: I think it’s massive for golf to be an Olympic sport because a lot of people will watch the golf that have never watched golf in the lives, so I think it could let them pick up the game as well.

For Holland, I think it’s a big thing because it’s not a very famous or known sport by the people [there] and hopefully by me being in the Olympics then they will see what it is and hopefully start following it and enjoying it – that’s the most important thing in Holland is getting the young kids into golf and hopefully the Olympics will help big time with that.

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What does it mean to you that your coach is a PGA Professional?

JL: I think it’s important that Phil is a PGA Professional because it’s by far the best education for a teaching Pro and you learn a lot more than just a golf swing – you learn about the body as well, the muscles you use and that’s a big thing as well when we’re out on the driving range – you want to know what you’re using…and Phil knows about that stuff as well and that’s because he’s a PGA Professional.

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The PGAs of Europe Olympic PGA Professional Coach Hub is a first-of-its-kind Olympics page (http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros) that aims to and celebrate coaching and shine a light on the PGA Professionals from around the world that are supporting, or have supported, the 120 male and female potential qualifiers for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games

Each Player-PGA Professional section contains details about their relationship, key links to find out more about both the potential Olympic qualifier and their associated PGA Professional, along with interviews and features with many of them.

For more information on the PGAs of Europe Olympic Coach Rankings visit http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros

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Olympic Coaches – Phil Allen & Joost Luiten
Brazil’s Olympic Golf Legacy – To Be the Biggest Force in South America http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/brazils-olympic-golf-legacy-to-be-the-biggest-force-in-south-america/ Mon, 08 Aug 2016 14:48:07 +0000 International Golf Federation (IGF) http://www.pgae.com/?p=16344 For a country with the world’s fifth biggest land mass, and a population of around 200 million, Brazil’s golfing community...]]>

For a country with the world’s fifth biggest land mass, and a population of around 200 million, Brazil’s golfing community represents a very small drop in a very large ocean. However, all that may be about to change, thanks to the Olympic Games.

Right now, the Confederation of Brazilian Golf (CBG) can lay claim to 129 courses and just under 10,000 registered golfers. Compared to Scotland, the Home of Golf, with its population of five million people (less than Rio de Janeiro) and 550 courses, it is obvious that golf as a sport for the masses in Brazil is still almost invisible.

But for how much longer? Paulo Pacheco is the President of the CBG and a passionate believer in the good that the Olympic Games will bring to the sport on its return after a 112-year absence at Reserva de Marapendi in Rio on Thursday.

“We want to fire the public’s imagination here in Brazil for golf,” he said. “We have been working incredibly hard for this moment since 2009, when we knew that Brazil would host the Olympic Games and that golf would be back in the programme. This is huge for Brazil and for golf all around the world.”

Already Pacheco, a successful businessman, has experienced the thrill of the world’s biggest sporting event, carrying the Olympic torch last weekend through the town of Nova Frisburgo near Rio, where he was born 70 years ago next month. Always a keen sportsman, he twice crossed the Atlantic on his own yachts but in recent years has been deeply involved in golf administration.

During his current tenure as President of the CBG, he started the social inclusion programme, Golf for Life, partially supported by The R&A, aimed at reaching 60,000 children in public and private schools around Brazil.

However, he lets out a deep sigh when faced with the two words, ‘legacy’ and ‘responsibility’. He knows that the CBG carries a heavy weight of expectation when it comes down to the challenges ahead, and the desire to bring golf to the people of Brazil.

He stated unequivocally: “The objective – our target – is that ten years from now, Brazil will be the biggest golfing force in South America. We have over 200 million people and only 20,000 play golf. That number is virtually nothing, so we have to use the Olympic Games to ensure that people who have never had any contact with golf get very excited by the opportunity to play. I think ten years from now, Brazil will show how the Olympic Games has helped golf in Brazil.

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“We have to expand the availability of golf and provide more public courses, even nine hole courses, in order to get more players. I am sure people who never had any contact with golf are very excited right now and we need to build on this.

“In six months or one year, people will begin to realise what a huge event this has been – the first time in South America – and how important it is for the sport. Sometimes it just takes time for people to realise this.”

The CBG has invested time and resource into bringing SNAG (Starting New At Golf) into the school curriculum, as part of the Golf for Life programme, which has helped to train over 300 gym teachers as coaches working inside the schools. Currently there are around 60,000 youngsters now playing a simplistic form of the game at a very basic level.

Pacheco added: “It’s very important because they (the coaches) are preparing the kids and they have the knowledge and skills about how to teach beginners. We are using money to import plastic clubs to use inside the school and you get the boys and girls to play with the normal clubs after that.

“But most important of all is not only to play but to talk about golf with the family, inside the community. In the past, nobody talked about golf in Brazil. Now you have people in schools talking about golf and that is the future – to communicate about golf and talk about it through word of mouth. The message will spread the more people talk about the sport.”

The CBG programmes involve rich and poor; public school and private school. Pacheco believes this is the right way forward and continued: “In Brazil, 90% of the kids are from poor backgrounds, but our programmes don’t differentiate. Rich and poor play with the same clubs on the same piece of land and hit the same shots. When I take a photo, all the smiles are the same. No difference.

“Once, you had to be a club member to play golf but not any more thanks to the new Olympic course. We will try to manage the golf course like a school for golf and show people that golf is sustainable. The idea is to manage a public facility and make it work. New players and their families can come and play.”

So Brazilians will be exposed to golf – many for the first time – through the men’s and women’s competitions over the next few weeks?

“Exactly,” he said. “That’s the point.  We have 70 cameras at the golf course. It is the first time you have a huge operation for golf and it’s very exciting. All the holes are covered and afterwards we will continue to work together with the IGF and The R&A and others to provide a legacy and give back to the golf. A lot of people are involved in the investment in golf in Brazil. It is a massive opportunity.”

For more information on the PGAs of Europe Olympic Coach Rankings visit http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros

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For up-to-the-minute information on #OlympicGolf and regular updates, please follow us on Twitter (@OlympicGolf), FacebookInstagram and YouTube.

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Brazil’s Olympic Golf Legacy – To Be the Biggest Force in South America
Olympics Mission for PGA Pros http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/olympics-mission-for-pga-pros/ Wed, 03 Aug 2016 22:08:38 +0000 PGA of Great Britain & Ireland http://www.pgae.com/?p=16311 All roads lead to Rio for a quartet of PGA Professionals heading to the 2016 Olympics]]>

All roads lead to Rio for a quartet of PGA Professionals who are set to inspire Brazilians to give golf a go during the 2016 Olympics.

While the likes of new Open champion Henrik Stenson and World No.1 Lydia Ko target a gold medal on the course Ben Stubbington, Konrad Brochocki, Andy Gealy and ex-PGA member Nick Clemens will be busy in the spectator village teeing up a series of fun activities designed to bring more newcomers into the sport.

The team from Provision Events, which was co-founded by Clemens and Brochocki, are familiar faces at golf tournaments across Europe and America where they give thousands of free coaching sessions.

But the Olympics promises to be an extra special affair, especially for 27 year old Stubbington who is the newest member of the team.

“I can’t wait, it’s a new one for all of us,” said Stubbington who was at the Open at Royal Troon in the R&A SwingZone. “Everything was shipped a few weeks ago in humungous flight bags and flight cases and we’ll meet them there.

“We fly out on August 8 and we’ll be there for the ladies and the men’s events. We are setting up a whole spectator village of activities so people can come and have a go. We believe people don’t just come to golf to watch the golf, they want to participate so we try and create a bit more of a family day out enabling everyone comes to have a go.

“We are working for the International Golf Federation to help promote the game out there and offer fans, golfers and non-golfers, to try their hand at all elements of the game of golf.

“It is the biggest stage in the world, every other sport in the world gets huge promotion off the back of the Olympics so as a golfer myself I’m looking forward to watching it and also being involved at close hand.”

Stubbington, whose dad Gary is head PGA Professional at Hockley and whose younger brother Jack is also a pro, has enjoyed a varied career to date. He trained at The Grove before joining Moor Park as shop manager and custom fitter. After that he moved to Foresight Sports in sales.

“Now I’m an events manager with Provision Events which involves sales and business development and staging events,” he adds. “We work with the governing bodies and do a lot to promote and push golf and get it into inner city areas.

“For example we do a lot of down town events pre-tournament, so for the Ryder Cup we had two inner city set ups, at the Irish Open we were there two weeks before and did a set up in Dublin, just to get out and promote the event. We get PGA pros on board to help with the coaching so it’s really positive.

“I’m away quite a lot, we do a lot of European Tour events and provide experiential activations for brands and agencies in all four corners of the world.

“Two of my colleagues did a Summer of Sport at Liverpool Station where we had a short game area and some coaching while we also work with companies like Zoopla, where we did the long putt challenge at the opening of their new headquarters. “I generally do three weeks away, a week at home and then away again. It’s loads of travelling but I’m really enjoying it and love helping people get into golf.”

For more information on Provision Events visit www.provisionevents.co.uk

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Olympics Mission for PGA Pros
Jutanugarn Bags Thailand’s First Major http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/jutanugarn-bags-thailands-first-major/ Mon, 01 Aug 2016 15:41:32 +0000 International Golf Federation (IGF) http://www.pgae.com/?p=16301 Ariya Jutanugarn etched her name into the history books by becoming the 2016 RICOH Women’s British Open champion at Woburn Golf Club in England.]]>

Ariya Jutanugarn etched her name into the history books by becoming the 2016 RICOH Women’s British Open champion at Woburn Golf Club in England.

The powerful 20-year-old from Bangkok became the first male or female golfer from Thailand to win a major championship and delivered on the promise shown from an early age, having first appeared on the professional tour as an 11-year-old with her sister, Moriya, who is 16 months older.

The pair were encouraged to play golf by their father Somboon and mother Narumon, who own a golf shop at the Rose Garden Golf Course near Bangkok.

As early as 2007, Ariya finished in a tie for 51st place at the Honda LPGA Thailand aged 11, making her the youngest ever player to qualify for an LPGA event. The following year, she tied for 28th place in the Finnair Masters in Helsinki aged 12, becoming the youngest player to make a cut on the Ladies European Tour.

In 2011, she played in a number of professional tournaments with a tie for eighth at the Honda LPGA Thailand and 25th at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

The success story continued in 2012 with three further top 25 finishes in LPGA tournaments and titles including the U.S. Junior Amateur, U.S. Amateur Public Links, AJGA Rolex Girls Junior, Junior PGA, Canadian Women’s Amateur and Polo Golf Junior Classic.

She ended that year ranked second behind Lydia Ko on the Amateur World Rankings and is now second to Ko on the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, following her Major triumph.

After winning the LET’s Lalla Aicha Tour School for 2013 by five strokes, Ariya wasted little time in earning her breakthough professional victory at the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco, but she suffered a huge injury set-back when she stumbled off a tee box during the 2013 LPGA Championship and tore the labrum in her right shoulder. She was out for eight months without touching a club and when she returned, still with some pain, she couldn’t make the same kind of swing.

This year, she has started working with coach Gary Gilchrist and is once again one of the longest hitters in the game, as she was before her injury. In May, she collected three titles in a row, at the Yokohama LPGA Classic, Kingsmill Championship and LPGA Volvik Championship.

She removed the driver from the bag on her way to winning the Ricoh Women’s British Open, as she did when she almost won the ANA Inspiration, preferring to use her 2-iron.

Speaking about Jutanugarn’s performance, television commentator Judy Rankin said: “She is some kind of player. You just have to stand in admiration,” while Jerry Folz added: “She is Laura Davies with the putter, she is Lydia Ko with length and Michelle Wie without a swing thought. She is the whole package.”

“Exciting time for the women’s game with the arrival of Ariya Jutanugarn as a major champion.”

For more information on the PGAs of Europe Olympic Coach Rankings visit http://eur.pe/OlympicPGAPros

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For up-to-the-minute information on #OlympicGolf and regular updates, please follow us on Twitter (@OlympicGolf), FacebookInstagram and <span

Images courtesy of Ladies European Tour/Tristan Jones
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Jutanugarn Bags Thailand’s First Major
Final Olympic Golf Rankings Published http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/final-olympic-golf-rankings-published/ Mon, 11 Jul 2016 16:20:53 +0000 International Golf Federation (IGF) http://www.pgae.com/?p=15999 The two-year qualification process for golf’s return to the Olympic Games for the first time in 112 years has been completed...]]>

The two-year qualification process for golf’s return to the Olympic Games for the first time in 112 years has been completed with the publication today of the Final Olympic Golf Rankings.

With no fewer than 40 countries included in the Final Rankings across the men’s and women’s competitions, to be played at Reserva de Marapendi Golf Course between August 11 and 20, the composition of the Olympic fields will highlight the broad global diversity of the sport in Rio de Janeiro.

Already, the ‘Olympic effect’ can be witnessed by the increase in the number of National Federations under the umbrella of the International Golf Federation (IGF), which has grown from just over 100 to an all-time high of 147, with opportunities arising for increased support to grow the game.

The Olympic golf competitions, beginning with the men from August 11-14 followed by the women from August 17-20, will have a potential global audience of around 3.6 billion, representing the ultimate shop-window for the sport and having the capacity to reach a brand new audience, especially among the younger generation across all the continents.

Peter Dawson, President of the IGF, said:

“After eight years of intense planning and preparation for golf’s historic return to the Olympic Games, the IGF is extremely excited finally to have reached this important milestone of identifying those players who are eligible to compete in Rio de Janeiro.

“We are particularly gratified to see how many countries are represented among the men and women and anticipate compelling competitions for both on the outstanding golf course that Gil Hanse and Amy Alcott have created. It has taken a tremendous amount of work by a number of people to get to this stage, and we at the IGF are extremely grateful for the role each and every one of them has played in making this possible.”

Qualification began on July 14, 2014 and concluded yesterday (Sunday, July 10). The full list of qualifiers confirms the names of the 120 players – 60 male and 60 female – who are now eligible to be entered by their respective National Olympic Committees (NOCs) in accordance with the qualification criteria.

The IGF will send confirmation of the quota places to the NOCs no later than 17.00 Eastern US time tomorrow (Tuesday, July 12). The NOCs will then confirm use of allocated quota places to the IGF who, in turn, will reallocate all unused quota places before the Rio 2016 Sport Entries Deadline on July 18.

The IGF will publish a further list of 60 names for both the men’s and women’s events on Monday, July 18, which will provide ratification of all the competitors who will comprise the respective fields at the Olympic Games.

The Final Rankings underline the diversity of the fields who will tee off in Olympic competition next month for the first time in over a century, with a total of 40 countries being represented across both the men’s and women’s events.

Additionally, every continent is represented in the Rankings, affording golf a unique opportunity to grow the game in unexposed territories and to achieve greater visibility with the potential television audience during the Games in Rio.  Across the two individual competitions, Africa has eight eligible players; Asia 29; Australasia & Oceania eight; Europe 52; North America 11; South America 12.

Full information on the Qualifying System for the 2016 Olympic Games can be found here:

Qualification System

View Women’s Olympic Rankings

View Men’s Olympic Rankings

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For up-to-the-minute information on #OlympicGolf and regular updates, please follow us on Twitter (@OlympicGolf), FacebookInstagram and YouTube.

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Final Olympic Golf Rankings Published
Olympic Movers & Shakers – Week Ending July 03 http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/olympic-movers-shakers-week-ending-july-03/ Fri, 08 Jul 2016 12:08:17 +0000 International Golf Federation (IGF) http://www.pgae.com/?p=15981 A roundup of the Olympic Golf Qualifier movers and shakers for the week ending July 03]]>

THE MEN

Johnson Jumps to No.1

Dustin Johnson is the hottest property in world golf right now. The new U.S. Open champion followed up his debut major victory at Oakmont by firing a final round 66 to win the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club by a shot from Scott Piercy.

In the process, Johnson soared to the head of the Olympic Golf Rankings and is now No.1 as the two-year qualifying period to determine the names of those heading to Rio reaches the final green this weekend. After Sunday’s cut-off, the National Olympic Committees will then confirm selection of the athletes to represent their country in Rio.

Johnson takes over at the top from Jordan Spieth, who tied for third in Akron with Bubba Watson moving above Henrik Stenson into fourth, which means the USA currently have a clean sweep of the leading three places.

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama has declared himself unavailable for selection and is placed at No.30 on the Rankings by Hideto Tanihara.

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“I can’t wait. My wife played professional basketball and she missed out on the Olympics because of a knee injury the one time she had a chance to make the team. So for me, it’s an amazing sporting event that I get to be inside the ropes at. I get to see some of the athletes I’ve always wanted to see. I get to go to some of the events I’ve always wanted to watch and then I get to play in it.” Bubba Watson.

Jaidee Ready for Rio – At 46

Thongchai Jaidee, a former paratrooper who used to jump out of airplanes for a living, enjoyed a more leisurely leap when he was propelled a hefty nine places up the Olympic Rankings, from 20th to 11th, following the biggest win of his career in the 100th Open de France at Le Golf National.

The popular Thai golfer became the oldest winner of the tournament at 46 years and 238 days, finishing four shots ahead of another Rio-bound player in Italian Francesco Molinari with Spanish Olympic candidate Rafa Cabrera Bello sharing fourth place.

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“The Olympics is the greatest sporting event in the world so I’m grateful to be a part of it. To be honest, I’m proud and excited to represent Thailand. I really can’t wait to be there. If I do win a medal, it will be a plus but representing my country and Asia is what I’m really looking forward to. I’ve won many events in Asia and Europe and play in all the major tournaments.

“The only sporting event missing from my career is playing in the Olympics so it really ranks on top of my list. The ultimate goal is to win in any tournament which I’m playing in but if I do win a medal at the Olympics, it will be an entirely different story. When you win for your country, the feeling is definitely better than winning it for yourself.” Thongchai Jaidee.

“It’s about the pride and the hard work that other athletes put in as well. Coming from your country, you all work as one team — it’s a little bit like The Ryder Cup, but a lot bigger. You know, Ryder Cup is a lot of passion and a lot of heart, but if you play for your country, and you see the people from your country sitting next to you having lunch, getting prepared for the Olympic Games, for their moment, that they prepared for four years; so that’s super inspiring.

“The Opening Ceremony? It’s huge to be part of that and walking in there. I don’t know what my chances are to carry the flag, but it would be massive. I mean, what a pleasure that would be.” Martin Kaymer.

THE WOMEN

The upwardly mobile Brooke Henderson of Canada proved that anything Dustin Johnson can do, she can do equally well. The Canadian teenager, who claimed her first major title at the recent KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, emulated Johnson by following up with another victory in the Cambia Portland Classic on the LPGA Tour to tuck in at No.2 behind leader Lydia Ko on the Olympic Rankings.

For good measure, the 18-year-old was also making a successful defence of her title. Stacy Lewis of the United States finished runner-up and climbs one place in the Olympic Rankings to eighth spot while Norway’s Suzann Pettersen remains at No.13 after her third place finish in Portland.

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“The Olympics to me is kind of like the sixth major on the LPGA Tour. The LPGA has five extremely strong events on the schedule and every time you mention a major championship it kind of sends shivers down your back little bit. It’s really important to me (to play in Rio) and I think everybody else competing this week. So to choose one over the other, I don’t think I can do that.” Brooke Henderson.

View Women’s Olympic Rankings

View Men’s Olympic Rankings

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Olympic Movers & Shakers – Week Ending July 03
Olympic Movers & Shakers – Week Ending June 26 http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/olympic-movers-shakers-week-ending-june-26/ Thu, 30 Jun 2016 08:45:17 +0000 International Golf Federation (IGF) http://www.pgae.com/?p=15897 A roundup of the Olympic Golf Qualifier movers and shakers for the week ending June 26]]>

THE MEN

Three-time major winner Harrington enters the Olympic fray

Padraig Harrington of Ireland, a three-time major champion, is on the Road to Rio after a number of golfers declared themselves unavailable to take part in the Olympic golf competition in August.

Ireland’s Harrington, an active campaigner for golf’s re-introduction into the Olympic movement, was in Copenhagen in 2009 when the IOC voted in favour of the sport’s return in 2016.  The three-time major winner enters the new Olympic Golf Rankings in 42nd place and is thrilled to have this opportunity to play in Rio de Janeiro.

Harrington and Seamus Power (52nd) are in line to represent Ireland after Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry all opted out.

World No.1, Jason Day, also decided not to participate and his place is taken by Marcus Fraser, who enters the Rankngs at No.30 and as result Jordan Spieth of the USA takes over at the top of the Olympic Rankings. Branden Grace of South Africa is replaced by Brandon Stone, who enters at No.32.

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“Ever since golf was first mentioned as a possible Olympic sport, and my involvement in golf’s presentation to the IOC in 2009, it’s been a primary goal of mine to qualify for the Irish Olympic Team for Rio 2016. Therefore, I am very excited by the prospect of playing and representing my country in the Olympic Games, should I qualify and gain selection in two week’s time. I will work very hard over the next few weeks to achieve this selection as it would be a huge honour for me to represent Ireland at the Olympic Games, having played an active role in golf’s bid to be re-included in the Olympic Games programme.” Padraig Harrington.

Perfect ten for Stenson

Sweden’s Henrik Stenson takes over as the leading European on the Olympic Golf Rankings after claiming his tenth European Tour title at the BMW International Open in Cologne, Germany. Stenson moves up three places to No.4 behind Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson. Stenson took the title with a 17 under par total of 271.

A tie for second with Darren Fichardt boosted Denmark’s Thorbjørn Olesen’s Olympic prospects. He climbs nine places to No.23 while Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who tied for fifth, is another big mover from 22nd to 19th.

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“This gives a nice confidence boost going into the summer with a lot of big tournaments coming up, so hopefully this will give me a push in the right direction. Whenever you play well you move up on the rankings and I’m looking forward to the Ryder Cup and the Olympics and the majors we’ve got left, so it’s all good.” Henrik Stenson.

“I may only have this opportunity (the Olympics) once in my lifetime. I am almost at the end of my career, so if I was nominated I would definitely go.” Alex Cejka of Germany.

First win for hometown boy Hurley

Billy Hurley III landed his first PGA Tour title when he finished three strokes ahead of veteran Vijay Singh of Fiji in the Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club, not far from the champion’s home town of Annopolis, Maryland.

The highest placed finisher among the Olympic hopefuls was Italian Francesco Molinari, who was tied eighth to moves up two places to 31st in the Rankings.

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“I think the Olympics are the essence of sport. My favourite memory is Stefano Baldini winning the marathon gold for Italy in the Athens Olympics. Now I am looking forward to sharing the experience with the athletes from different disciplines and seeing what the environment is like. If I wasn’t involved in the golf I would like to take part in the 100m because it’s the highlight of every Olympic Games.” Francesco Molinari.

THE WOMEN

Ko consolidates her No.1 status as Pace withdraws

Lydia Ko of New Zealand protected her status as No.1 on the Olympic Golf Rankings by recording her third victory of 2016 in the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G in Rogers, Arkansas.

Ko, also the official World No.1, finished the three round event with a 17 under par total of 196. Morgan Pressel of the USA and Taiwan’s Candie Kung tied for second place, elevating Kung two places in the Rankings to 17th. Germany’s Sandra Gal finished in a share of fourth and she also climbs two places to 24th.

However, South Africa’s Lee-Anne Place withdrew from the women’s Rankings and her place, at No.40, is taken by fellow countrywoman, Ashleigh Simon.

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“Just to be able to compete in the Olympics and play for your country in front of an international stage, I think that will be a dream come true for all the athletes to say, ‘Hey, I’m an Olympian’. If you end up getting a medal that’s great, but to say I’m an Olympian, I think that’s a pretty proud thing to say.” Lydia Ko.

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Olympic Movers & Shakers – Week Ending June 26
Olympic Movers & Shakers – Week Ending June 19 http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/olympic-movers-shakers-week-ending-june-19/ Tue, 21 Jun 2016 08:01:33 +0000 International Golf Federation (IGF) http://www.pgae.com/?p=15888 A roundup of the Olympic Golf Qualifier movers and shakers for the week ending June 19]]>

THE MEN

Johnson promoted to Major at last

After a number of close calls and some tough days at the office, Dustin Johnson finally landed that elusive major title at Oakmont, and in the process climbed into the top three in the Olympic Golf Rankings for the first time.

Johnson is tucked in behind Jason Day and Jordan Spieth at No.3 after winning the US Open, squeezing Rory McIlroy into fourth spot as the Road to Rio edges ever closer.

McIlroy, Bubba Watson (fifth) and Rickie Fowler (sixth) all drop back one place, while Ireland’s Shane Lowry – who led by four strokes going into the last round – has jumped to No.13 on the strength of his tie for second place behind Johnson, who finished on a four under par score of 276.

Martin Kaymer of Germany moves up two spots to No.23 while newcomers to the top 60 – making timely upward moves – are Australian Scott Hend, new at No.31 with Marcus Fraser dropping out, and Frenchman Gregory Bourdy, whose share of 18th at Oakmont, played a huge part in him ousting Alexander Levy in 35th spot.

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“I couldn’t be more excited, more happy, and more proud of myself, especially with the things that happened last year at the U.S. Open on the 18th hole. To come back this year and to get it done, it’s definitely bitter sweet. It was a lot of fun.” Dustin Johnson, 2016 US Open champion.

“I think it would be fantastic to be able to be in and around Olympians. They wait four years to be able to compete for their country, and fortunately, golf’s in it this year, and I think it would be a fantastic honour to go play.” Danny Willett, 2016 Masters champion.

“Right now, I’m pretty confident with what we’ve heard, from not only the PGA Tour but our personal outreach, and I think being an Olympian is just an absolute tremendous honour. It seems like it’s going to be an extremely memorable experience and I look forward to trying to win a gold for the United States.” Jordan Spieth, 2015 Masters and US Open champion.

THE WOMEN

Kim keeps the Korean flag flying

Sei Young Kim of South Korea birdied the first play-off hole to beat Spain’s Carlota Ciganda in the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give at Grand Rapids, Michigan. Victory kept Kim at No.5 on the Olympic Rankings as the second highest ranked Korean behind Inbee Park, who remains at No.3 in the Rankings behind Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson.

Ciganda is the week’s biggest mover, jumping six places to No.18, with her fellow Spaniard, Azahara Munoz, also joining the upward trend with a move up two places to 21st.

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“I’m very happy to win on Father’s Day to be able to give my dad this trophy.” Sei Young Kim.

Marvellous Madsen

Nanna Koerstz Madsen of Denmark claimed her first title on the European Ladies Tour with a five shot win over Scotland’s Pamela Pretswell and Stacey Keating of Australia in the Tipsport Golf Masters in Pilsen, Czech Republic. Swiss amateur Albane Valenzuela produced a fine finish to take fourth, which was sufficient to edge out American Gerina Piller.

The result of the penultimate counting event on the LET ahead of the final Olympic Rankings on July 10 provided considerable cheer for Maden and Valenzuela in particular. The Dane, who is involved in a tight race for one of her country’s two places in Rio with Emily Kristine Pedersen, was a big climber from 37th to 32nd while Valenzuela was a re-entry in the top 60 in 52nd.

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“Emily and I are playing for the Olympic Games and it would be the biggest experience to go there. I haven’t thought about the Olympic Games yet because I’m thinking about how to get there. This week, of course, was very important to me.” Nanna Koerstz Madsen.

“This is the last tournament that counts so it’s really important for everyone in contention to go. I really want to play and I’ve been dreaming about the Olympic Games since I was five years old.” Noora Tamminen of Finland.

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Olympic Movers & Shakers – Week Ending June 19
Olympic Movers & Shakers – Week Ending June 12 http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/olympic-movers-shakers-week-ending-june-12/ Wed, 15 Jun 2016 13:23:58 +0000 International Golf Federation (IGF) http://www.pgae.com/?p=15781 A roundup of the Olympic Golf Qualifier movers and shakers for the week ending June 12]]>

THE WOMEN

All change in the women’s Rankings as Henderson claims first major

Five in – five out. The Road to Rio became a little rockier for some and more positive for others as the fall-out from the second women’s major championship of the year, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, produced a very different landscape from the previous week.

Canada’s Brooke Henderson became the youngest winner of the event at Sahalee Country Club, when she overturned a three stroke deficit over the back nine on the final day to deny Lydia Ko a second straight major.

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In doing so, the 18-year-old reached her highest position on the Olympic Golf Rankings by displacing Korea’s Inbee Park at No.2 thanks to a birdie at the first hole of a play-off against Ko. However, the New Zealander remains at the head of the pack at No.1 in the Rankings.

In the frame to fill one of the 60 spots in the Olympic field are Su-Hyun Oh of Australia, a new entrant at No.21 at the expense of the great Karrie Webb. Amy Yang’s seventh place in Salahee brought her back into the reckoning in eighth spot, with Ha-Na Jang dropping out. Also in are Gerina Pillar of the USA in 13th place, Japan’s Shiho Oyama  in 22nd and Tiffany Chang of Hong Kong in 58th. Currently out of the frame are Webb, Jang, Mika Miyazato of Japan, Albane Valenzuela of Switzerland and Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow.

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”The Olympics to me is kind of like the sixth major on the LPGA Tour. The LPGA has five extremely strong events on the schedule and every time you mention a major championship it kind of sends shivers down your back little bit. It’s really important to me (to play in Rio) and I think everybody else competing this week. So to choose one over the other, I don’t think I can do that.” Brooke Henderson.

“I think it’s amazing. I think it shows how much golf is growing as a sport. It’s an amazing experience to be able to say you’re an Olympian. The team is picked July 11th, so I still have some golf to play. It’s an honor to represent your country in any tournament, but to be an Olympian is the had highest honor.” Lexi Thompson, USA’s highest ranked player in the Olympic Rankings.

THE MEN

Two for Wu

There was distinctly less moving and shaking in the men’s section of the Olympic Rankings. However, it was a rewarding week for Ashun Wu of China, who registered his second win on the European Tour by capturing the Lyoness Open powered by Sportlife Cashback Card in Austria.

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Wu, who broke through in 2015 by winning the Volvo China Open in his native country, took the title by one stroke from Spain’s Adrian Otaegui with a final round 69 and a 13 under par total of 275. That victory enabled him to displace WC Liang and re-enter the Olympic reckoning in 37th place.

Meanwhile Taipei’s Wen-Tang Lin was nudged out of the top 60 by Italy’s Nino Bertasio, who joined the Race to Rio in the final spot.

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“My game is coming together and everything is going in the right direction to keep competing at the highest level. That’s two top tens in the last three weeks, which has been great so there is a lot to look forward to for the rest of the year.” Ashun Wu.

Berger king in Memphis

Daniel Berger of the United States claimed his first PGA Tour victory in the FedEx St Judge Classic in Memphis, fending off the challenges of some tough competitors in Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson to land that eagerly-awaited title.

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The 23 year old Berger took some gentle ribbing during a fourth round rain delay by Mickelson, who questioned if the Rookie of the Year crown had ever been won without the recipient winning a title. Berger ensured the question was redundant a few hours later with a 13-under-par total of 267. Mickelson, Stricker and Koepka tied for second three shots adrift with Johnson in fifth place. Johnson remains No.6 in the Rankings.

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“To get it done today means a lot, with so many great players, Hall of Famers behind me. It’s something that I’ll never forget and I just love the way I hung in there and was able to get it done. It means the world to me .” Daniel Berger.

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Olympic Movers & Shakers – Week Ending June 12
Olympic Movers & Shakers – Week Ending June 05 http://www.pgae.com/news/olympics/olympic-movers-shakers-week-ending-june-05/ Tue, 07 Jun 2016 07:50:52 +0000 International Golf Federation (IGF) http://www.pgae.com/?p=15668 A roundup of the Olympic Golf Qualifier movers and shakers for the week ending June 05]]>

THE MEN

McGirt hits pay dirt

William McGirt of the United States might not be heading to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic Games, but he is certainly upwardly mobile on the PGA Tour, claiming his first title at the second hole of a play-off against fellow American, Jon Curran, in the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide at Muirfield Village.

There was little movement on the Olympic Golf Rankings as only a few players changed position among the top 60 headed for Brazil in August. Dustin Johnson finished third in the Memorial to climb from seventh to sixth, swapping places with Henrik Stenson, who was playing in Europe. Rory McIlroy tied for fourth to remain at No.3 behind Jason Day and Jordan Spieth.

Quote…Unquote

“One thing I had always told myself, if I ever won a golf tournament – number one – don’t cry. And number two – don’t make a fool of yourself. So when I stood over the putt, I told myself, ‘this is what you’ve dreamed of doing your whole life. You have this opportunity. Hit the best putt you can and see what happens’. Surprisingly, I felt no nerves standing over that putt and poured it right in the middle” William McGirt

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Matt finish so impressive

Matt Fitzpatrick continued a run of great results in 2016 for English golfers. Following Danny Willett’s success in the Masters and Chris Wood winning the previous week’s BMW PGA Championship, it was the turn of Matt Fitzpatrick to maintain the pattern.

The 21-year-old former US Amateur champion finished three shots clear of Denmark’s Lasse Jensen in Stockholm to win the Nordea Masters on the European Tour. Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts came third to move from 46th to 43rd on the Olympic Rankings with Stenson tied fourth.

Elsewhere, there was encouragement for the host nation in the Olympics, with their sole representative, Adilson da Silva climbing four spots to 51st.

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“I think it’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, something very new for us as golfers. I’ve never been to an Olympic venue (city) so it’s going to be good fun to be there, feel the atmosphere and watch some of the other sports and, of course, to try to make my country proud by hopefully competing for medals. If you can do that, why not go for the ultimate one?

“It (gold) would be huge. Sweden is a proud and strongly supportive nation but we’re not spoiled by winning heaps and heaps of medals in the summer Olympics, so that would be very big. I haven’t won any of the four grand prizes in golf, but I would put it (Olympic gold) right up there next to it.” Henrik Stenson

THE WOMEN

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Anna makes a case for the defence

Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist delivered a strong defence of her title in the Shoprite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer on the LPGA Tour. Rounds of 64-68-64 for a total of 196 tied the tournament record of 17 under par set by her now retired countrywoman, Anneka Sorenstam. Nordqvist jumped from 14th to 12th on the Olympic Rankings while Japan’s Haru Nomuda, who finished a stroke behind, is now 14th, a climb of one place.

Karine Icher of France, who shot a stunning 62 on Sunday for third place, moved up the Rankings from 26th to 24th as the Road to Rio enters the final six weeks.

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“Well, playing in the Olympics has been a dream of mine since it (golf) got introduced to the Olympics back in 2009. It’s been a big goal for me, and it’s going to be huge getting the honour to represent Sweden in the Olympic Games. I know there’s a lot of concerns with the Zika virus, but I trust the doctors.I know the Swedish Olympic Committee, they have a lot of great doctors and medical team behind them. I’m going to listen to them. But other than that, I’m going to go and I’m really excited about it, and I’m doing my best these last couple months to prepare for it.” Anna Nordqvist

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Olympic Movers & Shakers – Week Ending June 05