Australian golfer Minjee Lee who will be competing in her second Olympics in Tokyo. Photo: @InsideWAIS/twitter

With only one male and female event in the golf at Tokyo 2020 competition for medals will be tight, especially with such an open field.

There are two gold medals up for grabs in Golf at Tokyo 2020, one in the male event and the other in the female event. For all your Olympic coverage, stay tuned to The Inner Sanctum’s Olympic hub and the Olympics Central.

Golf makes its return for its second consecutive Olympic Games in Tokyo after becoming an Olympic sport again at Rio 2016 after a 112-year hiatus.

Golf is a game of power, precision and technique, where players must be able to master all facets of the game from stroke play to club-type depending on the distance to be successful. The aim is to get the ball from the tee into the hole which is hundreds of meters away in as few strokes as possible.

Each hole has a set par, which is how many strokes it should take to get the ball in the hole.

At the Olympics, stroke play is used which is where athletes playing four rounds of 18 holes over four days. The player which has the lowest score over the 72 holes is the winner. This is the same format used in major tournaments.

If there is a tie for either first, second or third place, a three-hole playoff will be done to determine the medal winner.

60 athletes will make up the men’s and women’s events, with qualifications based on the world rankings as of the 21st of June this year. The top 15 players in the world for each gender qualified, with a limit of four golfers per country able to qualify this way.

The remainder of the spots were filled by selecting the highest-ranked players from countries that did not already have two golfers qualified.

The United States has the largest team with four males and females qualifying while South Korea has a team of six with four females and two males. All other nations have teams no larger than four.

Justin Rose won the gold in the male event in Rio 2016, with Sweden’s Henrik Stenson taking home the silver and Matt Kuchar from the United States winning bronze.

However, at this Olympics none of the male medallists from Rio 2016 has qualified for this year’s event, meaning that a new Olympic champion will be crowned in Tokyo.

In the women’s event, Rio 2016 gold medallist Inbee Park is returning for her second games where she is one of the favourites to medal again in Tokyo.

Australia’s Olympic Golf History

For the return of golf as an Olympic sport in Rio, Australia had four athletes competing. Marcus Fraser and Scott Hend contended the men’s competition while Minjee Lee and Su Oh lined up in the women’s contest.

Fraser became the first Australian to ever strike a ball in Olympic competition and was leading the event at the halfway mark but ultimately finished tied fifth.

Lee did the strongest for Australia in the women’s competition finishing tied for sixth while Oh placed 13th.

In Tokyo, Australia will again have two male’s and two females’ competing in the events with three debutants. Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith will debut in the male event while 15th ranked Hannah Green will also make her Olympics debut.

Minjee Lee will also be returning for her second games.

Why to watch

Golf is a must-watch event due to the skill that the players showcase and the incredible shots they make. The game is fast pace than many expect and therefore will have you hooked after watching for a short period of time.

While some of the more traditional household names will not be a part of Tokyo 2020 such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson the event is still worth watching due to the unpredictable nature of the sport.

Due to the makeup of a golf course and the need to navigate water, sand traps, trees and wind just a few bad holes can send a player tumbling down the leader board.  

This is showcased by three different players in both male and female competitions winning the three major golf events held thus far in 2021.

The women’s event is also a must-watch due to the intense competition between the United States and South Korea. South Korea in particular has dominated women’s golf of late however, the world number one is the United States, Nelly Korda.

South Korea and the United States both have four women ranked in the top 15 in the Olympic Rankings which should make for an intense competition.

The Australians going to Tokyo have been in strong form in 2021 thus far and enter the events as dark horses.

More Tokyo 2020 News

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Import dates

Men’s Individual Stroke Play29th July – 1st August
Women’s Individual Stroke Play4th August – 7th August

Medal favourites

Jon Rahm: The reigning world number one and current US Open Champion, Spain’s Rahm will enter Tokyo as one of the favourites to medal in the men’s golf event. The games being postponed until 2021 might be a blessing for Rahm who has had a sensational last 12 months and is in some of the strongest form of his career.

Justin Thomas: Thomas is currently ranked third in the world and will be entering Tokyo with a point to prove. Thomas has been unable to win a major tournament since 2017 when he won the PGA Championship.

However, the 28-year-old has earned his ranking due to consistently being competitive in the majority of tournaments he plays. This was shown by winning his second PGA Player of the Year in 2020, having previously won the award in 2017. Expect Thomas to be near the top of the leader board in Tokyo.

Rory Mcllroy: While Mcllroy has not had the same success of late as he did from 2011 to 2014 which saw him win four major tournaments, the Northern Ireland native should still be heavily respected.

Mcllroy is currently ranked 11th in the world but was selected for Tokyo ranked sixth and as recently as July last year was the number one player in the world. Mcllroy is still one of the strongest golfers competing in Tokyo and therefore should be considered as a chance to medal.

Inbee Park: The reigning gold medallist from Rio 2016 will be looking to defeat her crown in Tokyo and add two golds to her trophy case. Park began 2021 in strong form winning the KIA Classic in San Diego. Currently ranked third in the world, Park will be looking to add to her hall of fame career which includes seven major titles along with her gold medal.

Nelly Korda: Current world number one, Korda will be hoping to add an Olympic medal to her already impressive young career. Korda became the world number one after winning the Women’s PGA Championship earlier this year to go along with two LPGA Tour wins. Korda appears to be the United States strongest chance of medalling.

Jin Young Ko: Ko had a breakout campaign in 2019 securing two major titles, the ANA Inspiration and the Evian Championship. Ko is currently ranked second in the world and is in relatively strong form entering the Olympics with two seventh-place finishes in the ANA Inspiration and US Women’s Open in 2021.

The Golf competition will run from 29 July – 1 August (men) and 4-7 August (women) at the Kasumigaseki Country Club.

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