Countdown to Paris 2024: Olympic golf gets kick-start at Zurich Classic

There’s just 100 days until the men’s golf competition opens at the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, and this week’s PGA TOUR event is chalk full of Olympic hopefuls teeing it up alongside each other in the TOUR’s only team event, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

This week marks the first time this year we’ll see countrymen paired up in an exciting format. While the 72-hole Olympic golf competition will be stroke play, this week is a special one for those Olympic hopefuls – and medalists.

“I’m excited about going with a chance to win an Olympic medal. That would be something very special,” said Shane Lowry of Ireland, who will be paired up alongside Rory McIlroy at the Zurich Classic. “Ireland has not won a ridiculous amount of medals over the years, so to be able to bring a medal back to Ireland would be very cool.

“I’ve done some really cool things in golf and that would be definitely up there.”

McIlroy will be making his tournament debut after inviting Lowry to play with him during a “drunken” lunch, he said with a big laugh, after the duo celebrated their Ryder Cup victory last fall. Lowry has played the team event three times – twice with fellow Irishman Padraig Harrington.

The duo also played together at the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan, with Lowry finishing T22 and McIlroy just losing out in a playoff for the bronze medal.

“Rory – I remember he was in the playoff the last time for the bronze medal and what struck me that time was how hard he took that, how much he wanted it. It just shows how much it actually means to us,” Lowry said. “It’s going to be pretty cool to be there with one of my best friends and both of us going there. We’d be going there with hopefully genuine chances to win a medal, and that would be very cool.”

Along with McIlroy and Lowry this week at the Zurich Classic – as we inch ever closer teeing off at Le Golf National – are a handful of other teams with Olympic potential.

Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele, who have been forces at the Zurich Classic (winning in 2022 and holding both the Four-ball and Foursomes scoring records), are currently in position to represent the United States in Paris. Schauffele, of course, is the defending gold medalist.

Collin Morikawa and Sahith Theegala are also in the mix for the United States and they’re both in the field at the Zurich, albeit with different partners – Morikawa is with Kurt Kitayama and Theegala is with Will Zalatoris.

Canadians Nick Taylor and Adam Hadwin are also the current Olympic representatives for the Red-and-White, but Corey Conners (who is playing alongside fellow Canadian Taylor Pendrith at the Zurich Classic) is nipping and Hadwin’s heels. Hadwin and Conners are neck-and-neck for the second Canadian spot. Taylor and Hadwin finished second at TPC Louisiana last year.

Twin brothers Nicolai and Rasmus Hojgaard also are teeing it up the Zurich Classic, and while Rasmus sits 10 spots behind Thorbjorn Olesen for the second Denmark spot, there’s a chance for Rasmus to jump into Olympic qualification with a hot stretch of golf.

“With 100 days until the beginning of Olympic Golf competitions, we’re excited to see the momentum building as we approach the Paris 2024 Summer Olympic Games,” said International Golf Federation Executive Director Antony Scanlon.

Part of that momentum is kickstarted this week at the Zurich Classic, with a unique PGA TOUR format giving fans a chance to get a sneak peek at a few players – and duos! – who are looking to find the podium in Paris.