They’re all jealous.
How did we not see this before?
Nobody knew how to react when golf was added to the Olympic program. Cool? Great? Will I watch it? Not to mention, soon thereafter, what seemed like every big name in the sport started to pull out of the games. Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott (albeit their reasons understandable). But it was a big let down on the dawn of golf’s return to the Olympics (whatever the hell that meant).
And then there were four. Four Olympic…astronauts? explorers? pioneers? heading into the unknown universe of the Olympics and it’s host city of Rio. Unsure exactly how it would effect their lives, but knowing they would be changed forever. Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar. These were our pioneers, among others, who took the “risk.” The risk of the stability of Rio and it’s environment, the risk of health issues in that region of the world, the risk of being in a competition that had no credit to the game other than a gold medal won by a Canadian in 1904. And the risk paid off.
Matt Kuchar won a Bronze medal. Kuch won a medal for the U. S. of A. That’s epic. But the difference between winning a medal and just playing the event is so much smaller than between playing in the event and not. Rickie Fowler is winning, again. Sure, he didn’t play his best and finished in the bottom half of the field. But, I’m sure that Rickie had the week of his life, and shared an unforgettable experience not only with his crew of American golf brethren but also with athletes from all over the world.
It started with Gil Hanse who designed and built one hell of a course that not only got praise from the players who played it, but also from the pros who watched it from home. Aesthetically pleasing, greens rolled true, ideal score won, and the best rose to the top (…yes I see the pun).
What a battle. Henrik Stenson at it again, this time squaring off with Justin Rose who ended up getting the better of Stenson, only after hitting a superb pitch to a foot at the 72nd hole.
Did it play like a major? Yes. It came down to two major winners on the final stretch. Check out Rose’s celebration – did it look like he just won a regular season tour event? Hell, I think he went harder than he did after winning the U.S. Open. Olympic Golf is only going to become more popular and more prestigious in the minds of the players. It was a fluke situation with this being the first year back, packing the schedule with majors just weeks before, and having a potential health hazard at the site of the games. After seeing what transpired this year, tweaking the schedule in 2020, and Tokyo being a first-class city, the aura surrounding Olympic Golf will be very, very different.
Players may still want to win majors over Olympic Gold, but I think the prestige of the Olympics will only rise over time, being a bigger goal than, say, The Players. I can see the Olympics being considered the real “fifth major.” Olympics are every FOUR years, it is recognized as the pinnacle of sport, and this is the beginning of a rich history. When we talk about tradition in golf, we think of the historic past champions of an event. We are living through that time right now for golf in the Olympics, and Justin Rose was a great start.