Close Races – 2024 Olympic Golf

Adam Stanley

As the calendar turned into 2024, it’s official – we’re in an Olympic year.

The LPGA Tour kicks off its 2024 campaign at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions in Orlando, Florida the week-of Jan. 15, while the PGA Tour had its first event of the year – The Sentry – wrap up on Jan. 7. Elsewhere around the globe, the DP World Tour enters a two-week stretch in Dubai, while the Ladies European Tour will commence its season in Kenya the week of Feb. 5.

Also underway, however, is the race to qualifying for Paris.

And with just 60 golfers being able to participate in both the men’s and women’s Olympic golf competitions, there are some seriously tight races to begin 2024.

Here are 10 to keep an eye on.

MEN

USA
Current: Scottie Scheffler (No. 1), Patrick Cantlay (No. 5), Xander Schauffele (No. 6), Max Homa (No. 7).

Max Homa of the United States
KAPALUA, HAWAII - JANUARY 04: Max Homa of the United States plays his shot from the ninth tee during the first round of The Sentry at Plantation Course at Kapalua Golf Club on January 04, 2024 in Kapalua, Hawaii. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

It’s no surprise the United States will once again send a powerhouse team to the Olympics – the only squad on the men’s side to have a full foursome in Paris. The top-15 world-ranked players will be eligible for the Olympics (with a limit of four from a given country) and the American side has lots of talent to choose from. There are four others, currently, inside the top 15 who have a chance to make some moves in the early part of the season with Brian Harman (No. 9), Wyndham Clark (No. 10), Collin Morikawa (No. 11), and Jordan Spieth (No. 13) firmly in the conversation.

AUSTRALIA
Current: Jason Day (No. 18), Cameron Smith (No. 28)

While the pair of major champions currently hold on to the two Olympic spots for Australia, there are two up-and-comers and another major winner eager to jump into the mix. Just six spots back of Smith sits Min Woo Lee (No. 34), while past Presidents Cup member Cam Davis (No. 44), and Masters winner Adam Scott (No. 47) could make some early noise in 2024 and jump Smith. 

CANADA
Current: Corey Conners (No. 38), Adam Hadwin (No. 48)

While Conners, a 2020 Olympian, has separated himself from the pack a bit, the race for the second Canadian spot is a hot one with Nick Taylor (No. 54), Adam Svensson (No. 57), and Mackenzie Hughes (No. 63) – TOUR winners, all – nipping at Hadwin’s heels.

JAPAN
Current: Hideki Matsuyama (No. 50), Ryo Hisatsune (No. 74)

Sony Open in Hawaii - Round One - Ryo Hisatsune of Japan
HONOLULU, HAWAII - JANUARY 11: Ryo Hisatsune of Japan looks on from the fifth tee during the first round of the Sony Open in Hawaii at Waialae Country Club on January 11, 2024 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Matsuyama’s resume speaks for itself, but keep your eyes peeled for Hisatsune’s efforts this year leading into Paris. Why? He won the DP World Tour’s Cazoo Open de France at Le Golf National – the Olympic host venue – in September en route to earning DP World Tour Rookie of the Year honors in 2023. Battling for the second spot is a tight race between two more up-and-coming Japanese stars in Keita Nakajima (No. 89) and Rikuya Hoshino (No. 90)

GERMANY
Current: Yannik Paul (No. 101), Stephan Jaeger (No. 103)

Outside of the United States, there is no country with golfers ranked this close to each other as they look to earn Olympic spots. Following Jaeger – a multi-time winner on the Korn Ferry Tour – is Matti Schmid (No. 127), the DP World Tour’s Rookie of the Year in 2021, and Marcel Siem (No. 148), a five-time winner on the DP World Tour including the Hero Indian Open in 2023 – an event he won by one over Paul himself.  

WOMEN

USA
Current: Lilia Vu (No. 1), Nelly Korda (No. 5), Allisen Corpuz (No. 12), Megan Khang (No. 14)

CME Group Tour Championship - Round Two - Allisen Corpuz of the United States
NAPLES, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 17: Allisen Corpuz of the United States plays her shot from the third tee during the second round of the CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club on November 17, 2023 in Naples, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Led by Vu, the LPGA Tour’s 2023 Player of the Year, and Korda, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, the American side is set to be a strong one, with a chance to send four golfers once again. Following Corpuz (who won her first major title at the U.S. Women’s Open last year) and Khang (who nabbed her first LPGA Tour title last year at the CPKC Women’s Open), are Alison Lee (No. 20), who had a return-to-form campaign last year, Angel Yin (No. 21), rising superstar Rose Zhang (No. 25), and past Olympian Lexi Thompson (No. 32)

AUSTRALIA
Current: Minjee Lee (No. 4), Hannah Green (No. 28)

While the pair of major champions in Lee and Green have separated themselves from the pack, the two chasers of Green’s second spot are neck-and-neck. LPGA Tour winner Grace Kim (No. 76) and two-time Ladies European Tour winner Stephanie Kyriacou (No. 77) are eager to make up ground through the early part of 2024.

SOUTH KOREA
Current: Jin Young Ko (No. 6), Hyo-Joo Kim (No. 7), Ji Yai Shin (No. 15)

The powerhouse Korean squad has three golfers currently qualified for the Olympics via the top-15 standings, however, Amy Yang sits just one spot back of an automatic qualifier at No. 16. Yang won the CME Group Tour Championship, the LPGA Tour’s season finale, in November for her first LPGA title in four years. At 34, she was the Tour’s oldest winner in 2023 but in her own words, “Age is just a number.”

JAPAN
Current: Nasa Hataoka (No. 17), Miyu Yamashita (No. 19)

CME Group Tour Championship - Round One - Yuka Saso of Japan
NAPLES, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 16: Yuka Saso of Japan looks on from the 18th green during the first round of the CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club on November 16, 2023 in Naples, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Looking past the two qualifiers for Japan sits five other golfers with a real shot at jumping into one of the Olympic spots. There’s Ayaka Furue (No. 24), Yuka Saso (No. 27), Akie Iwai (No. 36), Mao Saigo (No. 44), and Kokona Sakurai (No. 49). Saso is a unique case, as the major winner and dual-citizen played for the Philippines at the 2020 Olympic Games – where she finished ninth – but per Japanese nationality law she had to renounce one of her two citizenships by the time she turned 22. In Nov. 2021 she announced she would be keeping her Japanese citizenship and began representing Japan at international competitions in 2022. 

SWEDEN
Current: Linn Grant (No. 18), Maja Stark (No. 47)

Grant and Stark were part of the European Solheim Cup team that retained the cup this fall and would make up a formidable duo of Olympians. Nipping at Stark’s heels, however, is multi-time major champion Anna Nordqvist (No. 53) and another Solheim Cupper in Madelene Sagstrom (No. 63). Winners, all, on the LPGA Tour, watch for Nordqvist, Sagstrom, and Stark to have a nice battle for the second Swedish spot this year.

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