After 108 years, the sport of golf is back in the Olympics. However, for golf fans like myself, professional golf tournaments are played most weekends of the year. The PGA tour lasts for 39 weeks of the year from October to the middle of August. In these tournaments, roughly 125 golfers play the first two days and then the cut will be made. After a cut, generally 60 players continue on and play the weekend rounds. The Olympics are different; 60 players total are starting in it.
The men compete first from August 11th- August 14th while the women play August 17th- August 20th. But how strong is the U.S. Olympic team? Each country sent up to four players. The U.S. sent three; Lexi Thompson, Gerina Piller, and Stacy Lewis.
Gerina Piller played her heart out a few weeks ago at the U.S. Women's Open. She had to play well enough to bump herself inside the top 15 of the Rolex rankings to play on the team. She tied for 8th in the tournament, which added to her 29 other top ten finishes of her career. Piller and Lewis both average around 29 putts per round.
Stacy Lewis has had a hectic past couple of weeks. She competed in the RICOH Women's British Open during the last week of July, got married the first weekend of August, and followed that with Olympic training. Her rookie year was 2009 and she is currently standing at 9th in the Rolex rankings. She has the most top ten finishes of the three women as well as wins; 11 wins and 96 top ten finishes. Lewis has been golfing since the age of 8 and has faced back problems throughout her career. She has scoliosis and spent over seven years in a back brace; only taking it off to play the sport she loved.
Yes, we have a strong team representing the United States, but there are some individuals who could take the gold from us. Golfweek predicted Lydia Ko, Brooke Henderson, and Ariya Jutanugarn to take the gold, silver, and bronze medals. Lydia Ko is the number one ranked female player in the world and is also the best putter on the LPGA tour. She is only 19 years old but is a fierce competitor and finishes strong in competitions. Brooke Henderson is another young, strong competitor from Canada and is ranked as the number 3 player in the world. In 2016, Henderson has had 11 top ten finishes and 2 victories. Jutanugarn is ranked as the number 2 player in the world and is also the first player from Thailand to win a major championship. 2016 has been an incredible year of golf for her with 4 wins and 9 finishes inside the top ten. Personally, I feel that South Korea could also have a strong team all around. They were the only country to send four players, all of whom have played incredibly good golf over the past year or two.
If the U.S. women work hard and focus, I'm sure they can have a strong finish. These three women are all motivated and walk onto the course and leave it all out there. Who knows, maybe with women's golf finally getting into the Olympics, we could see some once in a lifetime rounds played by any of these women.