Olympic Movers and Shakers – Week Ending May 15
Another significant day for unstoppable Jason
Australia’s Jason Day consolidated his grip on the No.1 spot in the Olympic Golf Rankings following his four stroke victory over Kevin Chappell of the US in The Players’ Championship at Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra. Day’s success was the seventh in his last 17 starts and confirmed his status as currently the hottest player on the planet.
There were impressive top ten finishes from Italy’s Francesco Molinari, whose tied seventh position helped him climb to 33rd along the Road to Rio while Alex Cejka of Germany took a share of ninth place to jump to 38th on the Rankings.
“We go down there (to Rio) and we’re playing for pride. There's something really special about that. It's an unbelievable opportunity. It's something that from the time it was announced was really important to me to try to be on the Canadian team, and I hope to be able to do it. As we were saying about growing the game, if we can get ten extra kids involved in sport because a Canadian wins a medal, (then) I just think it's great for our game.” Graham DeLaet of Canada, No.38 on the Rankings, at an Olympic Press Conference at Sawgrass.
“When you look at the reach of the Olympics - London reached 3.6 billion people globally. A billion people watched the opening ceremonies alone. It's a platform that is unique in sport and one that we wanted to take advantage of from the standpoint of growing the game.” Tim Finchem, PGA Tour Commissioner, during The Players’ Championship.
Double delight for Wang
It’s not just the Korean women who are flying high in the world of golf at the moment. Jeunghan Wang is currently setting the men’s game alight with consecutive victories on the European Tour. Wang followed up his first title win in the Trophée Hassan II in Morocco by capturing the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open. He becomes the first Asian player to win back-to-back on the European Tour and the first since Rory McIlroy won in consecutive weeks in 2014.
Runner-up was Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh, who comes into the Rankings at No.54. Also into the top 60 is Malaysia’s Gavin Kyle Green at No.60 with Carlos Ortiz of Mexico and Mardan Mamat of Singapore losing their top 60 ranking status.
“I can’t belive I’ve won two weeks in a row. I’m so excited and happy. Of course, I’d love to make it to the Olympics. It’s crazy because I wasn’t even thinking about it until last weekend. It would be an honour to represent my country in Rio but I will have to play very well until then to qualify.” Jeunghan Wang.
Feng steps on the gas to her second Buick
China’s top ranked women’s player, Shanshan Feng, enjoyed a smooth passage on the Road to Rio by retaining the Buick Championship on the Ladies European Tour. Feng enjoyed a home victory in Shanghai by securing a birdie at the first hole of a play-off against Na Yeon Choi of Korea. Feng remains ninth on the Olympic Rankings, four spots above leading Thai player, Ariya Jutanugam, who won the previous week’s Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic in Alabama.
Choi’s runner-up finish doesn’t have a major effect on Korea’s Olympic representation. The battle being waged by her countrywomen is proving fascinating with four Korean players within the top eight, led by Inbee Park at No.2, behind current Ranking leader Lydia Ko of New Zealand.
The fluctuation among the Danish and Italian women continues with Nanna Koertz Madsen taking the place of Emily Kristine Pedersen at No.35 and Diana Luna replacing Giulia Molinari in 50th position.
“I was not that happy with my performance the first few months of this year after I changed my clubs and my putting has not been that good. It was a slow start but I’m making steady progress. Winning the Buick Championship has really picked up my confidence and with around three months to go to the Olympic Games, when we get to Rio I hope to be in my best shape.” Shanshan Feng.
“I think it's very special to have that amazing platform to reach a lot of kids. They might see golf for the first time ever and to maybe have the possibility of them wanting to win a gold medal through golf. I think it's amazing and a great opportunity for us. Everybody is really buzzing about the Olympics. It's a big deal for everyone and for me personally too, being from Germany, where golf is a big deal. Being able to represent my country on the biggest stage in sport is just absolutely huge.” Caroline Masson of Germany at an Olympic Press Conference at Sawgrass.
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