Olympic Movers and Shakers – Week Ending July 3
Dustin Johnson is the hottest property in world golf right now. The new U.S. Open champion followed up his debut major victory at Oakmont by firing a final round 66 to win the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club by a shot from Scott Piercy.
In the process, Johnson soared to the head of the Olympic Golf Rankings and is now No.1 as the two-year qualifying period to determine the names of those heading to Rio reaches the final green this weekend. After Sunday’s cut-off, the National Olympic Committees will then confirm selection of the athletes to represent their country in Rio.
Johnson takes over at the top from Jordan Spieth, who tied for third in Akron with Bubba Watson moving above Henrik Stenson into fourth, which means the USA currently have a clean sweep of the leading three places.
Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama has declared himself unavailable for selection and is placed at No.30 on the Rankings by Hideto Tanihara.
"I can't wait. My wife played professional basketball and she missed out on the Olympics because of a knee injury the one time she had a chance to make the team. So for me, it's an amazing sporting event that I get to be inside the ropes at. I get to see some of the athletes I've always wanted to see. I get to go to some of the events I've always wanted to watch and then I get to play in it." Bubba Watson.
Jaidee ready for Rio – at 46
Thongchai Jaidee, a former paratrooper who used to jump out of airplanes for a living, enjoyed a more leisurely leap when he was propelled a hefty nine places up the Olympic Rankings, from 20th to 11th, following the biggest win of his career in the 100th Open de France at Le Golf National.
The popular Thai golfer became the oldest winner of the tournament at 46 years and 238 days, finishing four shots ahead of another Rio-bound player in Italian Francesco Molinari with Spanish Olympic candidate Rafa Cabrera Bello sharing fourth place.
“The Olympics is the greatest sporting event in the world so I’m grateful to be a part of it. To be honest, I’m proud and excited to represent Thailand. I really can’t wait to be there. If I do win a medal, it will be a plus but representing my country and Asia is what I’m really looking forward to. I’ve won many events in Asia and Europe and play in all the major tournaments.
“The only sporting event missing from my career is playing in the Olympics so it really ranks on top of my list. The ultimate goal is to win in any tournament which I’m playing in but if I do win a medal at the Olympics, it will be an entirely different story. When you win for your country, the feeling is definitely better than winning it for yourself.” Thongchai Jaidee.
“It's about the pride and the hard work that other athletes put in as well. Coming from your country, you all work as one team -- it's a little bit like The Ryder Cup, but a lot bigger. You know, Ryder Cup is a lot of passion and a lot of heart, but if you play for your country, and you see the people from your country sitting next to you having lunch, getting prepared for the Olympic Games, for their moment, that they prepared for four years; so that's super inspiring.
“The Opening Ceremony? It's huge to be part of that and walking in there. I don't know what my chances are to carry the flag, but it would be massive. I mean, what a pleasure that would be.” Martin Kaymer
The upwardly mobile Brooke Henderson of Canada proved that anything Dustin Johnson can do, she can do equally well. The Canadian teenager, who claimed her first major title at the recent KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, emulated Johnson by following up with another victory in the Cambia Portland Classic on the LPGA Tour to tuck in at No.2 behind leader Lydia Ko on the Olympic Rankings.
For good measure, the 18-year-old was also making a successful defence of her title. Stacy Lewis of the United States finished runner-up and climbs one place in the Olympic Rankings to eighth spot while Norway’s Suzann Pettersen remains at No.13 after her third place finish in Portland.
”The Olympics to me is kind of like the sixth major on the LPGA Tour. The LPGA has five extremely strong events on the schedule and every time you mention a major championship it kind of sends shivers down your back little bit. It's really important to me (to play in Rio) and I think everybody else competing this week. So to choose one over the other, I don't think I can do that.” Brooke Henderson.
About the International Golf Federation:
The IGF was founded in 1958 to encourage the international development of the game and to employ golf as a vehicle to foster friendship and sportsmanship. The IGF is comprised of 146 National Federation Members in 141 countries and 22 Professional Members. The IGF serves as the International Olympic Committee’s recognized International Federation for golf.
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