The 2021 Olympics is scheduled for July 29th to August 7th at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kasahata, Saitama, Japan, about 45 kilometres northwest of Tokyo. The men’s competition will be held July 29th to August 1st with a short break before the women’s competition August 4th to 7th.
The Olympic Qualifying process appears very fair and inclusive to all regions. The Top-15 players in both men’s and women’s world rankings automatically qualify, with a maximum of four from each country. The remaining spots go to the highest ranked golfers from countries that do no already have 2 players qualifying among the Top-15. In total 60 men and 60 women will compete for Olympic glory which is a relatively small field for tournament golf and making the qualifying period an interesting watch.
Most of all is the Korean Women’s team qualifying. Korea has 6 players in the Top-15. Currently Korean’s hold the Top 3 spots in the Rolex World Rankings, 1. Jin Young Ko, 2. In Bee Park and 3. Sei Young Kim. This has made the race to Japan a fierce competition within Korean women’s golf.
The Olympics for women professionals is clearly more important than the men’s tours. Korean women have said it compares equal or even more valuable in the Korean golfing public’s view.
America is the second strongest country represented going by world ranking results with Nelly Korda, Danielle Kang and Lexi Thompson all in the top-10.
Although Korea and America will go into the Olympics as favourites many other stars of the women’s game will make the trip, including Canada’s Brooke Henderson, New Zealand’s Lydia Ko and the Thai talent Patty Tavatanakit.
For the men’s game the Olympics lags behind in importance compared to golf’s traditional majors and lucrative World Golf Championships. In 2016 big names like Dustin Johnson, Rory Mcilroy and Adam Scott all chose to skip the event. Scott and Johnson have both passed on the Japan Olympics also, facing some criticism.
Asian Tour members Gavin Green from Malaysia and Thailand’s Jazz Janewattanond and Gunn Charoenkul are in position to earn Olympic spots as well.
The largest spotlight will likely be on the 2021 Masters Champion, Hideki Matsuyama, playing in front of his home country and golf obsessed nation of Japan. It will be interesting to see how Matsuyama is able to handle the pressure in Japan where he already has a Tiger Woods level following and similar media attention in Japan. Matsuyama is a very private person, protecting his private life from public view to a great extent.
The twist is that it really is a home game for Matsuyama. In 2010 while still an amateur Matsuyama won the Asia-Amateur Championship in 2010 at Kasumigaseki Country Club for a place in the Masters.
Each 60 player field will play four rounds and if players in medal places are tied after 72 holes, a three-hole playoff will decide the medallists. If still tied after the three-hole playoff it will go to a sudden death play-off, which would make for some very exciting television.