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Gearing up for golf at the Olympics

With the 2016 Summer Olympics opening ceremony less than 1 year away, many sports fans are already beginning to feel the excitement building. 28 different sporting disciplines will be competed in Rio de Janeiro, including golf, which is being played at the Olympics Games for the first time since 1904. After such a long leave of absence, many players are eager to see whether the game will embody the Olympic spirit and if the sport will become a permanent Olympic fixture.

When the men’s competition was last held in 1904 Summer Games in St Louis, USA, 77 competitors took part, although all of them represented either the United States or Canada. Due to difficulties in travelling at the time, and because of various socio-political tensions around the world, many golfers from international destination were unable to make it to America and therefore did not compete. Gold was won by Canadian George Lyon for the individual event, and all three medals were taken by USA in the team discipline. Fortunately, Rio is expecting to play host to a far more diverse field of players, as well as hosting a women’s event. There is not scheduled to be a team competition this time around.

There will be certain restrictions on who can compete though. 60 players are expected to qualify for each event, and qualification will be based on world rankings as of July 2016. All players in the top-15 of the rankings will be eligible to compete, unless there are already four other eligible players from their home country above them in the rankings. This ruling could exclude some of America’s top players, as American’s regularly fill up around half of the top spots on the official world rankings in the men’s competition. It is likely that the final four American’s will not be confirmed until the last minute. Outside of the top-15, eligibility will be granted to players based on their world ranking, with a maximum of 2 players per country allowed to qualify this way, so long as the country has not already produced 2 qualifying golfers from the top-15. Based on these rules, a strong cohort is expected for USA (men and women) and Korea (women), but it also means that some relatively obscure players such as Adilson de Silva (Brazil), who is currently ranked as 327 in the Official World Golf Rankings, may get to take part.

Although golf has only been confirmed for the 2016 and 2020 Olympics so far, many fans are hoping that an exciting competition will ensure its continued inclusion in the Games. With Istanbul expected to make another bid for the 2024 Summer Games, many in Belek are hoping that one of their courses could be included as part of the Olympic bid. With the region situated only a little over an hour away from Istanbul by plane, it is not inconceivable that a local course could be used, as courses like the Carya, National, PGA Sultan and Montgomerie Maxx Royal have already proven their mettle on the international stage.

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