Recapping the Olympic golf competitions

Golf fans all around the world saw an extra year go by before the Olympic golf competition came back.

But, after two spectacular events, it was very clearly worth the wait.

After two weeks of golf on the biggest of global stages, here’s everything you need to know about the men’s competition, the women’s competition, and the competition as a whole – we want to hear what you think!

XANDER SCHAUFFELE WINS GOLD, BUT THE BRONZE-MEDAL PLAYOFF STEALS THE SHOW

The men’s competition featured medalists from three countries – and all three with various backstories and journeys to the Olympics.

The gold was won by American Xander Schauffele, a golfer so many knew would eventually win “the big one.”

Although this wasn’t a major championship – Schauffele continues to show up in golf’s big four, having notched six top-10 finishes in his last 11 major-championship starts – it was one of those victories you can’t help but think will buoy him to more success moving forward.

“Man, it feels good,” said Schauffele after the final round of the men’s competition. “It really is a special deal, standing on the podium… the ceremony, I think people talk about why the Olympics are such a special thing to them and we’re fortunate enough to be a part of a ceremony and I think we can all see why people say that.”

Rory Sabbatini captured the silver medal while C.T. Pan, of Chinese Taipei, won bronze.

Pan’s bronze-medal winning effort came after he emerged from a seven-man playoff that went four extra holes. Pan, after a final-round 63, ended up at 15-under for the competition and tied with Paul Casey, Mito Pereira, Sebastian Munoz, multi-time major winners Collin Morikawa and Rory McIlroy, and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, who was trying to add a bronze medal to go with his Green Jacket from earlier in the year.

Matsuyama and Casey were eliminated after making bogey on the first playoff hole. McIlroy, Munoz, and Pereira were all eliminated after making par on the third playoff hole. Morikawa made a bogey on the fourth playoff hole and Pan’s par was good enough to find the podium.

“I’ve been saying all day I never tried so hard in my life to finish third,” said McIlroy, showing what an Olympic medal – no matter the colour – means to the guys who tee it up for their country.

Sabbatini, meanwhile, won silver after a sizzling final-round 61 – the lowest score ever shot in an Olympic golf competition.

Sabbatini was born in South Africa but took up Slovakian citizenship just a few years ago. His wife is from Slovakia and her cousin is the head of the Slovakia Golf Federation. He viewed the medal-winning performance as an opportunity to help grow the game in his new adopted homeland.

The Canadian contingent of Mackenzie Hughes and Corey Conners finished off the podium but were not short on great experiences. Conners ended up just two shots out of the playoff for bronze and continued his fine play in 2021.

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“It’s incredible to feel the love from everyone in Canada as part of the Team Canada and having a good friend Mac here was awesome to share that experience with him,” said Conners. “Just, it’s an incredible spectacle, really proud to have represented Canada and I really look forward to trying to qualify for more teams in the future.”

NELLY KORDA PROVES WHY SHE IS THE BEST IN THE WORLD

The women’s golf podium was made up of American Nelly Korda, Japan’s Mone Inami, and New Zealand’s Lydia Ko.

Korda added to her hardware from 2021 and gave Team USA two golden golfers. She has won three times already on the LPGA Tour – including her first major championship – and the gold-medal winning performance proved her resiliency and poise.

She bounced back from a double-bogey on the par-3 7th with back-to-back birdies on No’s 8, 9, and 10. She managed to stay steady after a weather delay that lasted nearly 40 minutes in the final round as well and finished at 17-under for the week.

“I mean obviously it’s amazing to be a gold medalist, to even just be an Olympian is and to represent your country, I mean you have to be the top of the top to come to the Games,” said Korda. “But I wouldn’t say one win is more special than the other because they all are special.”

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Korda topped Inami and Ko by one shot and was greeted by her older sister (and fellow Olympian) Jessica Korda with a celebratory dance on the 18th green.

“For her to be doing what she’s doing, it’s insane to me. But at the same time, it’s so cool,” said Jessica Korda. “But like I said, this is like totally (Greatest of all Time) status for me – to win three times in a season, be world No. 1 and now she’s kind of like going for gold, I mean you guys write for a living, this is exactly what you would want to write about.”

Inami, meanwhile, was able to do what Matsuyama couldn’t for the men – win an Olympic medal for Japan on home soil. She has never won on the LPGA Tour, but this was a world-beating effort.

Finally, Ko – who won silver in Rio in 2016 – now adds a bronze medal to her Olympic collection. She is the first player in history to win medals in golf at two different Olympic Games.

Golf Town Athlete Brooke Henderson didn’t medal at these Olympic Games but did finish strong.

Her 4-under 67 in the final round was her lowest of the week.

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“It’s really nice to finish at 4-under for the event to get it under par. Going into today I wanted to get it under par and climb up as much as I could and so it was nice,” said Brooke. “So overall I feel like my game’s in a better place today than it was at the start of the week, which is all you can really ask for. Keep on improving every day and I’m excited and looking forward to the (AIG Women’s Open) in a couple of weeks.”

Brooke talked about the inspiration she can provide young athletes back home in Canada after earning her spot on two Olympic teams.

“Although it didn’t go as well as I would have liked just having the opportunity to be here with the best athletes in the world I’m inspired and so hopefully the young boys and girls watching back home and really people of all ages hopefully they can take something away from these last two weeks this incredible Olympic experience and hopefully the game of golf grows,” said Brooke. “I feel like playing in the Olympics for golf is like huge, just such a big stage and I feel like it reaches a lot more people, which is really exciting and hopefully the future is bright for Canadian golf and all around the world.”

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 Fellow Canadian Alena Sharp finished at 5-over for the week and was 49th after a 4-over 75 in her final round.

HOW DO YOU THINK THE OLYMPIC GOLF COMPETITION COULD LOOK IN THE FUTURE?

Over the two weeks of Olympic golf, many golf fans took to social media about a variety of topics on the competition.

Now we want to hear from you!

Should caddies get medals?

 Something unique about golf is that although it is an individual sport with golfers being the ones who swing the clubs, make the putts, and feel the pressure, it’s the caddies that do an undeniably important job as well.

Especially these last two weeks in Tokyo where the temperature was hitting 40 degrees almost every day, a caddie became even more important. But the medal only went to the player.

Does a caddie deserve some hardware, too?

Should the event be match-play?

There is only one week per year on both the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour where golfers play in a match-play event. For the Olympics, do you think it would make it more interesting to see golfers go one-on-one to determine who wins a medal?

Arguably, the best part of the two competitions were the playoffs for the medals (7-for-1 for bronze on the men’s side, and 2-1 for silver and bronze on the women’s)

Should there be a team portion to the competition?

Imagine Brooke Henderson getting grouped with Corey Conners, or Nelly Korda and Xander Schauffele taking on the world? As golf’s governing bodies try to grow the game even more, why not use the Olympic’s global platform to incorporate both men and women into the competition together?

They already play the same golf course, and even if they don’t play together, there’s an opportunity to use simple math to combine men’s and women’s scores for a mixed-team medal.

Should professionals even play?

 With many of the game’s biggest names – certainly the men’s side – deciding to pull out of the Olympic competition, it raised an interesting query about whether pros should sit on the sidelines.

On one hand, having golf’s superstars competing at the Olympics is a good thing (now more people than ever realize how amazing Nelly Korda is) but since golfers aren’t playing for money anyway, what about having the best amateurs in the world be the ones to compete for their countries at the Olympics?

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2 thoughts on “Recapping the Olympic golf competitions”

  1. Leave the game the way it is but I do think this is one place where the caddies should get something. I do not think match play would be good for the Olympics.