By: Meghan Flanagan —
With less than a year and a half to go until golf returns to the Olympic Games for the first time since 1904 in Rio, players on both the men’s and women’s side of the game will be fighting for one of the 60 spots in their respective 72-hole stroke play fields.
For the women, the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings will be used to determine the Olympics golf rankings. The top 15 world-ranked players will be eligible for the Olympics, with a limit of four players from a given country. Beyond the top 15, players will be eligible based on the world rankings, with a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top 15. The qualification period ends July 11, 2016.
With her recent major championship victory at the ANA Inspiration two weeks ago, Brittany Lincicome moved up 12 spots in the Rolex Rankings to No. 6 and is now currently the second-highest ranked American behind No. 2 Stacy Lewis. A year ago, Lincicome looked to be a dark horse to make the team in 2016 and ranked No. 53 in the Rolex Rankings as of April 14, 2014. But six top-10s last season and two runner-up finishes helped the 29-year old’s climb in the rankings. A fourth-place finish in the Bahamas this year and her win in the desert pushed Lincicome into the top-10 and in great position to represent the red, white and blue in Rio.
In the most recent Olympics golf rankings, the United States and the Republic of Korea are the only two nations to have four players each represented (USA- Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson; KOR- Inbee Park, Hyo Joo Kim, So Yeon Ryu and Amy Yang).
A ton of golf will be played between now and the end of the qualification period next July and several players from both countries are on the outside looking in but by very a slim margin. Each have three players ranked within the top-25 in the Rolex Rankings that don’t currently qualify for the Olympics rankings based on the four-player maximum qualification guidelines.
• USA – Top-3 on the Outside Looking In: No. 12 Cristie Kerr, No. 20 Jessica Korda and No. 23 Angela Stanford
• Korea – Top-3 on the Outside Looking In: No. 13 Mirim Lee, No. 17 Na Yeon Choi and No. 18 Q Baek
There could easily be a mix up on either of those rosters on a week-to-week basis for the two countries. Among that group of six players who are currently on the bubble, they have a total of 63 LPGA Tour victories with five of the players recording at least one win since the start of last season.
Current Olympics Golf Rankings by the Numbers:
• LPGA Tour Members: 42
• LPGA Tour Victories: 175
• Major Championships: 48
• World Golf and LPGA Halls of Fame Members: 1 (Karrie Webb)
• Past Solheim Cup Players: 17 (Lewis, Lincicome, Pettersen, Wie, Thompson, Nordqvist, Munoz, Ciganda, Hull, Matthew, Gal, Icher, Masson, Nocera, Hedwall, Sergas, Boeljon)
• Past UL International Crown Players: 15 (Lewis, Park, Ryu, Thompson, Webb, Nordqvist, Munoz, Phatlum, Lu, Ciganda, A. Jutanugarn, Yokomine, Minjee Lee, Hedwall, Tseng)
• Nations with One Player Represented: 13 (Paraguay, Ireland, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Chile, Philippines, Mexico, Russia, Austria, Belgium, Venezuela, Vietnam, Brazil)
Current Olympics Golf Rankings as of April 13, 2015