Almanac Golf: Golf Capital – Rose triumphs in Rio, Ko favourite for women’s crown.

@hamishneal

A collection of my golf thoughts from the week plus some player performance/form notes for the next few days.

Opening Drive:
Only a matter of weeks after a thrilling finish at the Open Henrik Stenson was locked in another gripping contest, this time in Rio, but Brit Justin Rose prevailed on the 72nd hole to claim the first men’s Olympic stroke-play gold medal in golf. Rose, who won twice last year, has won every year on either the European Tour or US PGA Tour tour since 2010 and carded a final round 67 to claim the gold ahead of Open champion Stenson with Matt Kuchar of the USA claiming bronze. Officials got the tight finish in the men’s event which it desperately needed after it’s inclusion had been questioned by all and sundry, including top golfers. However Rory McIlroy appears to have changed his tune plus the women’s event has all the recent major winners aboard which the men’s competition did not so it will be interesting to see how things play out from Wednesday.

Elsewhere the US PGA Tour rolled on with Ryan Moore claiming the John Deere Classic. Moore, 33, has put together a tidy career with a win in three of the last four years but has struggled in majors with his recent best a T12 in the Masters last year so the win was somewhat of a surprise even with some tour regulars missing as they were playing in Rio.

Away from Brazil this weekend the US PGA Tour stages the Wyndham Championship. Won last year by Davis Love III. Americans haven’t had it all their own way at the Sedgefield Country Club track with recent wins to Spaniard Sergio Garcia (2012) and Colombia’s Camillo Villegas (2014.) The event is the last one before the FedEx Cup Playoff Series commences so players will be clambering for spots to boost their ranking. European Tour action returns with the Czech Masters in Prague which was won easily by Thomas Pieters last year. The Belgian finished just out of the medals in Rio.

Player performance notes:

Players I’m interested in to see how they go with notes that interest me and/or are related to capital investment if that’s your thing. We stay at the Reserve de Marapendi venue in Rio with the women’s Olympic event which starts on Wednesday local time with a Saturday finish.

20 or under: Lydia Ko: The Kiwi World number one has two major wins to her credit and is looking for title number 20 as a professional. Ko, still only 19, has won a major this year (the ANA Inspiration,) lost a playoff in another and also finished third.

20 or under: Amy Yang: The course has one more par three compared to standard courses and South Korean Yang is second in par three scoring this year. Ko leads that statistic with Open winner Ariya Jutanugarn third.

20-50: Minjee Lee. The Australian has won this year already and in the men’s event the top four (bar Kuchar) had all won in the last 12 months.

20-50: Suzann Pettersen. Experience told in the men’s event with Rose, 36, the youngest of the top three (although fourth-placed Pieters is 24) so Pettersen, 35, fits the bill. But the Norwegian hasn’t won since 2013

50-100: Charley Hull. The Brit felt the pressure somewhat with a T17 finish at the women’s Open which was held on her local course and finished second to Ko in the Ana this term. The world #27 may have drawn inspiration from Rose’s triumph. Hull, 20, also ranks seventh in the par three scoring stat on the LPGA Tour we mentioned earlier.

100-200: Leona Maguire. The Irish amateur will be able to draw on the knowledge US second-tier regular Seamus Power (T15) and four-time Ryder Cup winner Padraig Harrington (T21) who posted low rounds of 67 with Power, doing it twice. Maguire is the world’s top female amateur and this event is the perfect lead in to turning pro which she will do after Rio.

200-500: Christel Boeljon. Looking for winning form at long odds the Dutch player last won in June of 2015 and also secured the Australian Ladies Masters title in 2012

500 or higher: Tiffany Chan. The Chinese player won the Hong Kong Open in June. Rose won the corresponding men’s event (sort of) in 2015 and with a lot of inconsistent players in the field Chan, 22, has some hope. Like Maguire currently retains amateur status.

Greens in regulation:

With a plethora of low rounds and a quality podium golf’s return to the Olympic family was with a strong pass mark. The TV ratings in the US were surpassed only by the Masters this year and the event already has lessons for the main golf tours. Greg Baum of Fairfax Media, in his reflections on the men’s event, noted at one stage he saw an inflated boxing kangaroo in the galleries (likely following Australian duo Scott Hend and Marcus Fraser.) Even the party-themed tournaments in the USA would probably ensure something that fun never made it on the course. Food for thought for golfing tour officials.

Tap in:

Eventual winner Rose and South Africa’s Jaco Van Zyl both nabbed a hole in one over the four days of the men’s event. Given the field had half the amount of a normal tour event that’s quite the strike rate. South Korean Inbee Park has already nabbed one in practice for the women’s event as well. It would be a decent feat if this trend continues over the duration of the life as a public course. If that happens it might be worth pulling up a seat at the bar there on your next trip to Rio as you are likely to score a free brew courtesy of any accurate locals.

This wrap/preview first appeared on From the sideline of sport

About Hamish Neal

Born in Lower Hutt New Zealand Hamish is forever wedded to all things All Black, All Whites, Tall Blacks and more. Writing more nowadays in his 'spare time' (what is that anyway?) but still with a passion for broadcasting. Has worked in various sports development roles in England, Northern Ireland and Australia.

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