As we get closer to the Olympics In Tokyo, some might suggest that golf has become even more disconnected from the iconic international sporting spectacle.
The focus, as it was in 2016 when golf returned to the Olympics for the first time since 1905, it is sadly linked to the number of players who have chosen not to travel to play. That’s understandable, up to a point, but you can always add another perspective. And here is the vision to consider: there will be many other young stars who will be a part of golf at the Games and who will proudly represent their country, and that has a significant impact.
If one takes the philosophy that golf as an Olympic sport help grow the game, make us think two things.
One, golf is well developed in the United States thanks to a large number of courses and endless professional, amateur and youth competitions that give players a world of opportunities. If the mission is to bring the sport to a younger audience, how could Justin Thomas (28), Xander Schauffele (27) and Collin Morikawa (24) not like to represent their flag in Tokyo?
Furthermore, in the context of stories about some golfers who do not want to play, these young people are eager to go. “It’s the Olympics,” said Morikawa, the 2020 PGA Championship winner. “To have the opportunity to represent your country, there is nothing like that.”
Schauffele, whose mother, Ping-Yi ChenBorn in China but raised mainly in Japan, she added that she loved Tokyo, “I love going there. I like their culture.”
Although Thomas, Schauffele, and Morikawa provide Americans with three young faces to identify themselves, America is already a nation with a very strong foundation in sports. So there is not so much pressure on these young players to be part of the beginning of a wave of golf growth, but simply pride in meeting their own expectations (and those of their country).
It is very different with the rest of the other 60 players, Which leads us to the other conclusion: not just taking the example of those experienced who have rejected the Games, but rather recognizing the crowd of young people who look at Tokyo 2020 as a dream scenario.
Abraham Ancer, who played in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro And being in Tokyo this year, he signaled that it would be an opportunity to spark even more the interest of millions of young golfers in Mexico. If he were to win that Olympic medal, what he considers to be the fifth ‘Major’, Ancer, 30, envisions huge growth in interest in golf in Mexico.
And I will definitely use it as motivation in Tokyo. “Any opportunity I may get to play for my country, I just really enjoy it,” Ancer said.
Similarly, 23-year-old Viktor Hovland he got into the Games. Surely the opportunity to compete against great players in an extraordinary setting means a lot, but it is the patriotic approach that is priceless.
“Norway has a very rich Olympic tradition, so I think it would be great if people at home become more enthusiastic about our sport. The mere fact of being able to compete as an Olympic athlete is a great honor and I hope I can represent my country well, “he says.
It might be suggested that the Olympic Games They are made for young stars who are passionate and international, names like Jon Rahm and Joaquin Niemann, for example. Although they live primarily in the United States, Rahm, 26, and Niemann, 22, have their hearts forever tied to Spain and Chile, respectively.
“I have been able to win championships representing Spain as a fan on almost every level imaginable, “said Rahm, the recent US Open winner.” Winning the gold medal (from the Olympics) would be amazing. “
Although Spain does not lack heroes who have done great things in golfLike players of the stature of Seve Ballesteros -one of the first to chew on the idea of the Olympic return- and Jos Mara Olazbal, the Olympic Games bring a patriotic spirit that envelops the Spanish soul and that will be very useful to continue planting the seeds. of golf within the borders of Spain. And Rahm is more than willing to cultivate them.
Niemann feels that the Games can also help Chile. The numbers emphasize the sport’s need for growth: There are only 60 professional golfers, 15,000 amateur golfers, and only 50 golf courses in his country. “For me,” said Niemann, who has already achieved a victory on the PGA Tour and has captivated a large number of fans, especially in Latin America, “it is something very important.
“There are many media in Chile and being able to play for a gold medal would be wonderful. It would be an honor for my country because we don’t have many gold medals. “
Only four golds
In fact, the total of Chilean sport is four gold medals in 40 Olympic Games. Yes, four. So when you know that Michael Phelps, by himself, won five gold medals at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, well, you have an idea why it would resonate loudly if Niemann or any other international player were to shine in Tokyo.
“It was always my dream to represent my country”, said Niemann, who has the Chilean flag stitched onto his golf bag. “Now to be able to do it at the Olympics, it’s incredible.”
Beyond that many focus on the absences of some names, there are young people eager to represent their country. And the Japanese dream that their young star, Hideki Matsuyama, will fight for the gold medal, no matter who his rivals may be.