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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
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.
“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.