Leading stars from men’s and women’s golf poised for Olympic glory next summer at Le Golf National’s Albatros Course
A year from now, 120 of the world’s best golfers – 60 men and 60 women – will gather at Le Golf National to compete in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
The course, which is just southwest of Paris and 15 minutes from the majestic Palace of Versailles, is no stranger to international competition after hosting the 2018 Ryder Cup as well as the Open de France on the DP World Tour 28 times.
PARIS, FRANCE – SEPTEMBER 29: A general view of the 16th green at the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National on September 29, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Paul Severn/Aberdeen Standard Investments via Getty Images)
Golf in the Olympics is in its relative infancy, though. The sport returned to the roster of events in 2016 after an absence of 112 years and the coveted gold, silver and bronze medals awarded in France will be just the fifth set for the men and the fourth for the women.
Even so, what unfolds during that two-week span in August 2024, could be historic.
No male or female golfer has ever medaled in three Olympics. But barring a precipitous drop in the Olympic Golf Ranking over the next 12 months, Lydia Ko of New Zealand will head to Paris with just that opportunity.
Ko won a silver medal in 2016 at the Rio Olympics, finishing five strokes behind South Korea’s Inbee Park despite making her first-ever ace during the third round. And in the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Ko lost a silver medal playoff to Japan’s Mone Inami after both players finished a shot behind Nelly Korda of the United States.
KAWAGOE, JAPAN – AUGUST 07: Lydia Ko of Team New Zealand celebrates with the silver medal at the victory ceremony after the final round of the Women’s Individual Stroke Play on day fifteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Kasumigaseki Country Club on August 07, 2021 in Kawagoe, Japan. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Ko, who is a 19-time winner on the LPGA Tour, recently told Olympics.com that getting to play in Paris is one of her biggest goals over the next year. And while earning a third straight medal — of any kind — is a top priority, she’d like nothing better than to complete her set with a gold.
“Paris is probably going to be my last Olympics,” the 26-year-old said. “Obviously, it’d be another year on top of this year and then another four on top of that, and I don’t know whether I’d like to be competing by the time it comes to L.A. (and Riviera Country Club).
“(Paris is) definitely the biggest thing that’s lingering in my mind. … It’d be pretty surreal to say that you’ve medaled at all three of the Olympics since its return in over 100 years… it’d be really cool to say I have the trio of all three colors.”
Ko is used to making history, too. She won her first LPGA event at the age of 15 and her first major at 18 – in each case, she was the youngest to ever do so. And when she was ranked No. 1 in the world at the age of 17, she was the youngest male or female to reach that position.
The competition on the Albatros Course at Le Golf National, designed by Hubert Chesneau and Robert Von Hagge, will be challenging, though. The men’s stroke-play event will be held Aug. 1-4, 2024 while the women take center stage Aug. 7-10.
The players are selected from the Olympic Golf Rankings (which are based on the Official World Golf Ranking). The top 15 men and top 15 women are eligible to play in the Games — with a limit of four from a single country.
Once past No. 15 in the Olympic Golf Rankings, there will be a maximum of two eligible players from each country that doesn’t already have two or more in the top 15. Ko currently ranks third behind No. 1 Jin Young Ko of South Korea and Korda, the 2020 gold medalist, who is also looking to have another shot at a medal.
“I kind of had watery eyes,” Korda told Golf Channel after her victory. “I was like wow, this is surreal. You don’t understand it until you’re in the position. It’s such an incredible feeling at the end of the day.
“You’re not just playing for yourself, you’re playing for your country. There’s so much history in the Olympics and just to be a part of that is amazing.”
Based on the current ranking, the Canadian women’s golf team would consist of Brooke Henderson and Maude-Aimee Leblanc. Meanwhile, the men’s team would be comprised of Corey Conners and Nick Taylor.
Scottie Scheffler, who won the 2022 Masters Tournament and the 2023 PLAYERS Championship, leads the men’s Olympic Golf Rankings. A rookie on the PGA TOUR in 2020, he would be making his Olympic debut, as potentially would two other U.S. players currently ranked among the top six – Patrick Cantlay and Max Homa, if they can hold onto their spots.
Reigning gold medalist Xander Schauffele is also well positioned in the mix for the Americans with a little over a year – and four major championships, all four in 2024 – to go before the teams are finalized.
World No. 2 Jon Rahm, the reigning Masters champion, is looking to potentially begin his Olympic experience in Paris. He had to withdraw from the Tokyo Games – postponed until the summer of 2021 as the coronavirus continued to spread – due to a positive COVID test of his own.
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA – APRIL 09: Jon Rahm of Spain celebrates on the 18th green after winning the 2023 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 09, 2023 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who currently is second in the Olympic Rankings, was part of an unusual seven-man playoff for the bronze medal in Tokyo that was won by C.T. Pan of Chinese Taipei. Entering the competition, McIlroy said he wasn’t sure of what to expect at the Olympics but playing for his country clearly impacted the 34-year-old.
“It makes me even more determined to go to Paris and try to pick one up,” McIlroy said after missing out on the bronze medal. “It’s disappointing going away from here without any hardware, I’ve been saying all day I never tried so hard in my life to finish third.
“But it’s been a great experience. Today was a great day to be up there in contention for a medal. It certainly had a different feeling to it than I expected and yeah as I said I’m already looking forward to three years’ time and trying to go at least one better but hopefully three better.”
McIlroy acknowledged the Olympic spirit had “bitten him” in Tokyo, but he thinks he’ll have a better chance to come home with some hardware in Paris now that he’s been to an Olympics and knows what to expect.
“I would come in with a slightly different mindset of targeting a medal just instead of seeing how it goes and seeing what the experience is like,” the four-time major champion said. “But I would like to keep the sort of relaxed vibe and atmosphere that we have had within the team all week, because I think honestly, part of the reason I played well this week is because of that atmosphere that we have had.”
LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND – The International Golf Federation (IGF) has announced DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley has been elected as its new Chairman.
The announcement was made following an IGF Board Meeting which was conducted December 7, 2023.
World Golf Hall of Fame Member Annika Sörenstam was also reelected as IGF President.
“We are grateful for the leadership of Keith Pelley and Annika Sörenstam as we continue to encourage the international development of the sport of golf,” said IGF Executive Director Antony Scanlon. “As two prominent members in the international golf landscape, Keith and Annika will bring extensive experience and knowledge to our overall strategy and we are thrilled to have them in these key roles. I also want to thank PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan for his tenure as the IGF Chairman and we’re delighted to have him continue on the Board moving forward.”
Pelley, from Canada, became the fourth CEO in the DP World Tour’s history in August 2015, will serve as the Chairman of the IGF from 2023-2027.
Prior to joining the DP World Tour, Pelley was President of Rogers Media in Toronto. Before that, he was Executive Vice President of Strategic Planning at CTVglobemedia, President of Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium, President and CEO of the Toronto Argonauts Football Club and President of The Sports Network (TSN) in Canada.
Sörenstam, who has 97 worldwide professional victories during her prestigious playing career, was reelected for a second two-year term as IGF President, which she’ll serve from 2023-2024.
American Korda wins gold at women’s Olympic golf competition
KAWAGOE, JAPAN - AUGUST 07: Nelly Korda of Team United States celebrates with the gold medal at the victory ceremony after the final round of the Women's Individual Stroke Play on day fifteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Kasumigaseki Country Club on August 07, 2021 in Kawagoe, Japan. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
American Nelly Korda won the women’s Olympic golf competition by one stroke over Japan’s Mone Inami and New Zealand’s Lydia Ko.
Korda had held the tournament lead since the second round when she carded a 9-under 62, and was able to stay ahead with consecutive rounds of 69 to finish the tournament at 17 under.
Inami and Ko both finished the tournament at 16 under, forcing the silver and bronze medals to be decided by a playoff.
Inami defeated Ko on the first hole of the playoff, the par 4 18th hole.
Ko also won a silver medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Canadian Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., finished tied for 29th at 4 under after putting in a final round 67, her lowest round of the tournament. Alena Sharp of Hamilton finished 49th at 5 over.
“Yeah, I’m really excited to be a two-time Olympian and to be able to compete here this week,” said Henderson. “I feel like playing in the Olympics for golf is huge, just such a big stage and feels like it reaches a lot more people which is really exciting and hopefully the future is bright for Canadian golf and all around the world.”
Korda has 3 shot lead, Sharp shoots 69 at Olympics
Canada's Alena Sharp watches her drive from the 9th tee in round 1 of the womens golf individual stroke play during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe on August 4, 2021. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP) (Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)
Nelly Korda is still in command of women’s golf. The 23-year-old American has a three-shot lead over India’s Aditi Ashok going into the final round. Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ontario, is tied for 40th while Hamilton’s Alena Sharp is 44th.
Next in line are four players at 10-under: 2016 silver medalist Lydia Ko of New Zealand (66), Japan hopeful Mone Inami (68), Hannah Green of Australia (67) and Emily Kristine Pedersen of Denmark (70).
Statistically speaking, it doesn’t seem like a fair fight between the two leaders. While world No. 1 Korda is bombing drives and hitting short irons throughout the East Course, Ashok is dinking drives and relying on hybrids to reach a number of holes, with at least five par-4s typically measuring over 400 yards. Korda is averaging a full 44 yards further than Ashok, who is second-to-last in the field with a 233-yard average.
And yet, she makes it work with a keen understanding of her limitations and strengths. She still hit 17 of 18 greens, four more than Korda in round three. And then there’s her putting, the very thing she practiced endlessly when first introduced to the game.
Henderson moves up leaderboard, Korda shoots 62 at Olympics
Canada's Brooke Henderson watches her drive from the 14th tee in round 2 of the womens golf individual stroke play during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe on August 5, 2021. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP) (Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)
Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., shot a 3-under 68, while Alena Sharp of Hamilton shot an even-par 71 in the second round of the women’s golf competition at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Nelly Korda of the U.S., shot a 9-under 62 at Kasumigaseki Country Club to give herself a comfortable four shot lead over Denmark’s Nanna Koerstz Madsen and Emily Kristine Pedersen, and India’s Aditi Ashok, who are all tied at 9-under.
Korda made nine birdies in the second round, and an eagle on the par 4 sixth hole. A late double bogey on the 18th closed out her round.
Henderson made five birdies in the second round, after only making one birdie in the first and currently sits tied for 34th.
Her teammate, Sharp, made one bogey on the front nine, and one birdie on the back nine that put her in a tie for 46th at 3-over.
“I got to be a little bit more aggressive and take advantage of those holes that are up and roll some putts in,” Sharp said. “I’m not going to really change too much what I normally do. Like I mean I would love to go out and shoot a really low round, but we’ll see. Those putts got to drop.”
SAITAMA, JAPAN - AUGUST 04: Brooke Henderson of Canada plays the a shot on the first hole during the first round of the Women’s Individual Stroke Play event on Day 15 of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at the Kasumigaseki Country Club on August 4, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR/IGF)
Both Canadians struggled in the first round of women’s golf.
Alena Sharp and teammate Brooke Henderson shot opening rounds of 3-over 74. Henderson was near the top of the leaderboard for the first nine holes. But four bogeys on the back nine saw her slide down the standings.
Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden leads after carding a 5-under 66, with Nelly Korda of the U.S. and Aditi Ashok of India behind her at 4-under
While the summer heat was something of a forgotten concern ahead of the Tokyo Olympics due to the pandemic, it definitely was noticeable last week during the men’s golf competition and became a real-life factor Wednesday as the women’s tournament got underway at Kasumigaseki Country Club.
Leader Sagstrom certainly didn’t experience the 41C/105.8F afternoon heat index in her home country of Sweden, but she did attend Louisiana State University, now lives in Orlando, Florida, and has played in even worse furnace-like conditions in Thailand and Singapore.
American Schauffele wins gold at men’s Olympic golf tournament
Xander Schauffele won the Olympic gold medal in golf in a tense finish.
Schauffele was tied for the lead with Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia with two holes to play. The American made birdie from 6 feet on the 17th hole to regain the lead. Then after a bad tee shot that forced him to play short of the water, he hit wedge to 4 feet and made the par to win.
“I felt like for the most part of the day I stayed very calm,” Schauffele said. “I usually look very calm but there’s something terrible happening inside at times. So I was able to learn on those moments where I’ve lost coming down the stretch, where I hit a bad shot or a bad wedge or a bad putt and sort of lose my cool. But I felt like today I really, I thought I had a one-shot lead going into 16 or 17 and I looked at the board and I saw Rory shot 61, so that was a nice wake up call for me; thank goodness there was a board there or I wouldn’t have known. Yeah, it was a roller coaster day for me especially on that back nine coming in and just happy I could fall back on parts of my game to sort of pull me through.”
Sabbatini set an Olympic record with a 61 and won the silver.
“I was out there today and I kept just trying to remind myself, okay, don’t think ahead, don’t think ahead, just enjoy the moment that you’re in because you don’t know what it’s going to end, just enjoy every hole as it comes,” Sabbatini said. “It just seemed like every time I kind of had a hiccup out there I was like, oh, maybe this is the end of the run, but okay. And then all of a sudden, I kicked back into gear. So it was a lot of fun and it was just one of those rare days that you have on the golf course.”
The bronze medal was determined by playoff which included a star-packed field that also included Matsuyama (who shot 67), Paul Casey of Great Britain (68), Rory McIlroy of Ireland (67), Mito Pereira of Chile (67) and Sebastián Muñoz of Colombia (67). It was so large, it required splitting into two groups.
Matsuyama and Casey were eliminated first, followed by Muñoz, then Pereira and McIlroy.
Morikawa bogeyed the final hole after his approach to the 18th green plugged in the steep upslope of the fronting bunker. Pan sank a par-saving putt for the medal.
Canada’s Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., finished 13th (65) at 13-under and Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., (75) was 50th at 3-under.
Canadians climb back into contention at Olympic men’s golf tournament
Mackenzie Hughes (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP)
Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes and Corey Conners are tied for 17th after three rounds at the Olympic men’s golf tournament, seven shots behind the leader heading into Sunday’s final round.
Hughes, from Dundas, Ont., carded a 65.
Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., had a 66 to climb up the leaderboard.
American Xander Schauffele maintained the one-stroke lead he held at the beginning of the day, though now the closest pursuer is Japan’s own golf hero, Hideki Matsuyama, who replaced Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz as Schauffele’s closest pursuer at Kasumigaseki Country Club.
Canadian men lose ground during second round of Olympic golf tournament
Both Canadians slipped down the leaderboard during the second round of the men’s Olympic golf tournament in Japan on Friday.
Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., shot a 1-over 72 and dropped into a tie for 39th at 1-under.
Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., is tied for 34th overall at 2-under par thru 16 holes.
Due to lightning, the second round was suspended at 11:57 a.m. and resumed at 2:21 p.m., a delay of 2 hours, 24 minutes. Another thunderstorm forced the second round to be suspended for the day at 5:20 p.m. with 16 players left to complete round two. Play will resume at 7:45 a.m. Saturday morning with round three scheduled to start at 9:03 a.m. off split tees.
American Xander Schauffele leads at 11-under par with rounds of 68-63. Schauffele’s father, Stefan, is French/German and grew up in Germany as an Olympic decathlete hopeful before a car crash with a drunk driver caused loss of vision in his left eye, ending his Olympic dream at age 20
Conners, Hughes T20 with opening-round suspended at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
KAWAGOE, JAPAN - JULY 29: Corey Conners of Team Canada lines up a putt on the first green during the first round of the Men's Individual Stroke Play on day six of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Kasumigaseki Country Club on July 29, 2021 in Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Canada’s Corey Conners and Mackenzie Hughes are at 2-under 69 after the first round of the men’s golf tournament. Conners and Hughes are tied for 20th with nine other golfers, six strokes behind leader Sepp Straka of Austria.
Play was suspended two-and-a-half hours due to a thunderstorm.