Men's golf will have a good attendance record at the Paris Olympics


The Olympics have come a long way in the 12 years since golf first returned to the program, mostly measured by attendance.

Hardly anyone is staying home this year.

Bernd Wiesberger was one of two eligible players who pulled out, and even that was curious.

Wiesberger was the third-ranked Austrian until he tied for second in the European Open, suddenly moving past Matthias Schwab. And then he withdrew almost immediately, not a big surprise because Wiesberger also withdrew from the Tokyo Games.

Cristobal Del Solar of Chile also pulled out, mainly because he is on the cusp of getting a PGA Tour card for the first time and didn’t want to sacrifice time away from the Korn Ferry Tour.

The rest of the eligible players are all in for Paris.

Adam Scott has been opposed to golf in the Olympics from the start and withdrew again. Brooks Koepka and Tyrrell Hatton also withdrew, though neither of them was eligible.

It stands in sharp contrast to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where the top four players in the world — Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day — were among a dozen or so players who stayed home.

That had mainly to do with concerns over the Zika virus. McIlroy said later he resented the Olympics forcing him to decide between Ireland and Britain, but he came around and played for Irish golf in Tokyo.

The Tokyo Games, postposed a year to 2021, featured no fans because of the pandemic and daily COVID-19 tests. Eleven players chose not to play, a list that included Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Matt Fitzpatrick, Louis Oosthuizen, Francesco Molinari and Camilo Villegas.

Three players who chose not to play in Tokyo — Villegas, Fitzpatrick and Emiliano Grillo — are headed to Paris. The others were not eligible.

Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau intended to play in Tokyo until they returned a positive COVID-19 test and were forced out. Rahm will be in Paris. DeChambeau is second alternate.

But it’s a refreshing change that no one is talking about who’s not going to the Olympics, at least with the men. It was never an issue for the women, who have turned out in full force since the start.

For the men, the 60-player Olympic field will have eight of the top 10 players and 13 of the top 25. Countries get two players — a maximum of four if all are among the top 15 — meaning every eligible player will be at Le Golf National.

Cam Davis of Australia won the Rocket Mortgage Classic and moved up to No. 38 in the world ranking. That still might not be enough for him to get into the British Open.

Davis is certain to be the highest-ranked player from the Official World Golf Ranking next week, which the R&A said it would use for a reserve list. Thomas Detry of Belgium is next on the OWGR at No. 50 among those not already exempt.

The question is whether a reserve list is needed.

The field for the British Open as of Tuesday was 132 players (assuming Todd Hamilton doesn’t play, which he hasn’t since 2018). There are two spots available at the John Deere Classic, five spots for the leading players from the top 20 in the Race to Dubai after this week and three more spots at the Scottish Open.

There also were 16 spots added to the field from the 36-hole qualifiers Tuesday. That brings the field to 158 players (or 159), and the field is supposed to be 156 players. There might not be a need for a reserve list or room for Davis.

The R&A said there are typically two to three players who withdraw for various reasons, so the field could get back to 156. But the Open would go with 158 (or 159) if that’s where it lands.

Having the field exceed 156 players is not an issue in the U.K. because it doesn’t get dark until about 10 p.m. in the summer. The last time the field exceeded 156 players was in 1995 when 159 players were at St. Andrews.

As for Davis, his only path to Royal Troon could be earning one of two spots available next week at the Scottish Open.

Richard Bland has won the two most prominent senior majors in golf, adding the U.S. Senior Open in a playoff at Newport to his Senior PGA Championship title.

And now? It’s on to Andalucia.

That’s the next stop for LIV Golf. Bland has been a LIV member since the Saudi-funded league launched in 2022. He has no status on the PGA Tour Champions for competing in the rival tour.

Senior majors only come with an exemption through the following year (2025). Even if Bland wanted to play the PGA Tour Champions, he would have to wait one full year from his last appearance on LIV Golf. If he stopped now, that would be next July.

But why would he want to do that?

Bland now can play the two biggest senior majors next year. And on LIV Golf, Bland already has earned just over $2.3 million in nine events this year, with a tie for eighth his best result. It’s a small schedule and big money.

Bland made $4.4 million on LIV last year, and he made just over $3.5 million in seven events in the 2022 season. Steve Stricker had to win six times, including three majors, to pull in just short of $4 million on the PGA Tour Champions last year.

Fast-talking Rocco Mediate already hosts a twice weekly show on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio. Now he’s bringing in a real rock star.

Media and shock rock legend Alice Cooper are teaming up for monthly show called, “Rolling the Rock with Alice Cooper and Rocco Mediate” that debuts on Tuesday at 6 p.m. EDT.

Cooper took up golf some 50 years when he was recovering from alcohol addiction, boasts a handicap index of 4 and claims to be on the golf course six days a week, even while touring.

The plan is for Cooper and Mediate, a six-time PGA Tour winner famous for losing a U.S. Open playoff to Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines, to share stories from their careers and invite guests from the golf and entertainment industries, along with tackling current topics in golf.

“It’s an ‘anything goes’ show that is all improv. We have no idea what we’re going to talk about until we start talking,” Cooper said. “We’re quite literally just ‘rolling the rock.’”

This is the 25th year for Deere & Co. to be title sponsor of the John Deere Classic, making it the second-longest continuous title sponsor on the PGA Tour behind AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am (39 years). … Cameron Young now has 18 finishes in the top 10 in his three full seasons on the PGA Tour. He still is looking for his first victory. … Richard Bland won $800,000 for his U.S. Senior Open victory, the third-highest paycheck of his career. He twice won $1.175 million for a three-way tie for third at LIV Golf events in Thailand and Greenbrier last year.

Florida State sophomore Luke Clanton tied for 10th in the Rocket Mortgage Classic, making him the third amateur this year to finish in the top 10 on the PGA Tour. That includes American Express winner Nick Dunlap.

“It’s just made me a better player. You’re not always going to be playing your best golf, but I’m the best player I’ve ever been.” — Richard Bland on what it has meant to him playing LIV Golf.

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AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf



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