An aerial view of the Olympic golf course currently under construction in Rio de Janeiro.
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Wednesday, July 09, 2014

We might be more than two years from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, but it’s never too early to start thinking about who will actually qualify for the exclusive golf competition.

According to, the International Golf Federation plans to release a new ranking system next week that will merge with the Official World Golf Ranking to determine the field of 60 golfers competing for the gold in Brazil when golf returns to the Olympics for the first time in over a century.

The top 15 players in the ranking will qualify, with a maximum of four players from any given country. From there, the highest ranked players will qualify, with only two golfers eligible from each country that doesn’t already have two or more players qualified from the top 15. Many of the top-100 players in the Official World Golf Ranking will be passed over to fill a field with a pair from each country.

If the Olympics started today, for example, the United States would send Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth to Brazil, with top-15 Americans Jim Furyk (11), Phil Mickelson (13) and Dustin Johnson (14) on the outside looking in.

Likewise, using the Rolex Rankings for the women, Stacy Lewis, Lexi Thompson, Michelle Wie and Cristie Kerr would qualify, while Paula Creamer (12), Lizette Salas (13) and Angela Stanford (14) would not.

With such small margins separating these players in the rankings, it will surely add some fun to the less-popular tournaments that fill the gaps between majors until the final rankings are released on July 11, 2016.

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