14 Apr 2021 | Professional golf |
by Mark Hayes
Today marks 100 days until the start of the Tokyo Olympic Games, but it’s getting far more pressing for Australia’s would-be Olympians.
While the women’s team appears relatively settled, competition for the spots in the men’s team remains wide open after some fascinating and impressive recent results.
Dual Australian Open champion Matt Jones has been the big mover among the men, putting pressure on the long-standing “big four” of Adam Scott, Jason Day, Marc Leishman and Cam Smith.
Sydneysider Jones had been sixth among the Aussies, also behind Lucas Herbert, when ranked 113th in the world to start 2021.
But a string of great results, including a win at the US PGA Tour’s Honda Classic in March and a top-30 finish at last week’s Masters have Jones up to No.52 and having moved past Day (No.57).
Smith went past Adam Scott to be the top-ranked Aussie while idle a week earlier, but his top-10 finish at Augusta National sent him up to No.26 in the world while his fellow Queenslander Scott fell to No.34.
Victorian Leishman’s top-five finish at Augusta has him within touching distance of Scott, too, at No.37.
Herbert, idle for a fortnight having not been in the Masters field, remains at No.76 and still in the Olympic chase should he strike his best form in the next two months.
The men’s qualification period ends on June 21, the day after the US Open finishes and given Australia is unlikely to have three men inside the top 15 on the world standings, the top two will be given the chance to pull on the green and gold in Japan.
The women’s qualifying period ends a week later, a day after the Women’s PGA Championship.
Minjee Lee (world No.10) and Hannah Green (No.20) seem to have a mortgage on the Olympic berths, with Katherine Kirk (No.86), Su Oh (No.93), Gabi Ruffels (No.145), Steph Kyriacou (No.146) and Sarah Kemp (No.170) the only possible contenders.
All five of those chasing women would have to win at least one, probably two large tournaments in the interim to run down the West Australian duo.
The Olympic golf competition will be staged at Kasumigaseki Country Club, north of Tokyo.
The men’s event starts on 29 July with the women teeing off from 4 August.
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