Olympic Movers and Shakers – Week Ending April 17
South African Branden Grace fired a final round 66 for a two shot victory over British pair, Luke Donald and Russell Knox to record his first win on the PGA Tour. A profilic winner around the world, including six times on the European Tour, Grace’s win has enabled him to move just outside the top ten on the Olympic Rankings with Rio just over three months away.
Grace climbs from 13th to 11th and, for the first time, leapfrogs his fellow South African Louis Oosthuizen, who drops from 11th to 12th.
This week’s Olympic Rankings have brought countries closer together. Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler of the US are fourth and fifth respectively; England’s new Masters winner Danny Willett and Justin Rose are ninth and tenth; Grace and Oosthuizen 11th and 12th and Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera-Bello of Spain 14th and 15th. The letter moves up one place – the fourth successive week he has been upwardly mobile.
Denmark’s Søren Kjeldsen’s recent good form has lifted him from 24th two weeks ago inside the top 20 in 18th place.
The IGF is disappointed with Adam Scott's decision to make himself un-available to play in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio but respect his professional and personal reasons for deciding not to compete in Rio and look forward to successful return of golf to the Olympic Games.
“You know, I was fortunate. The God up above gave me a talent to do anything with a ball. I played rugby. I played cricket. I played hockey. I played pretty much everything growing up and was pretty good at it. It was hard to go from team sport to individual sport. And so I made the right decision and it's paid off.” Branden Grace.
“We never grew up watching golf in the Olympics, so it wasn't really on my radar ever as a junior, amateur or professional. But now it is.
“So the perspective of being an Olympic athlete has changed a lot, and having the opportunity to represent your country - my country of Australia - is huge and I'm looking forward to it and it would be a complete honour to go down there (to Brazil) and represent Australia and try to win a gold medal for my country.” Jason Day, No.1 on the Olympic Rankings.
Down Under...but reaching up!
Australasia has enjoyed a rich vein of form on the LPGA Tour in recent weeks. Hard on the heels of New Zealand’s Kydia Ko’s triumph in the ANA Inspiration, the first women’s major of the year, it was the turn of Australian Minjee Lee to scale the heights.
Lee came from five shots back, shooting a final round of 64, to win the Lotte Championship Presented by Hershey in Hawaii to move up from 13th to tenth place behind No.1 Ko, and ten places above her fellow Autralian, Karrie Webb, who slipped down from 19th to 20th.
Japan’s Harukyo Nomura and Mika Miyazato both moved up two places and both now reside within the top 20 in 18th and 19th places respectively.
There was great news for the potential Brazilian participation, although disappointment for America’s Cristie Kerr. By dropping to 16th on the Rankings and with the USA already having two players in the top 15, Kerr slips out of the running for Rio – at least temporarily – and this allows in Brazil’s Victoria Lovelady in 60th place, with her fellow countrywomen, Miriam Nagl, also within the qualification zone in 58th.
“(I am) really excited. I mean, I think the Olympics is going to be great. The atmosphere is going to be totally cool, so I'm really looking forward to it.” Minjee Lee.
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