Olympic Gold Winners Earn Major Exemptions
Media on the 2016 Olympics has been pretty quiet with the PGA Tour stealing all of the coverage. The professional golfers were preparing for tournaments like the Masters, taking priority over Olympic previews of the course.
There was an upset a month back when Tim Finchem, the PGA Tour commissioner, had a charter plane lined up to take the top golfers to test out the Rio golf course but no one wanted to go. Instead a few local players tested out the course and the pros stayed home and continued their tour dates. Golf hasn’t been in the Olympics for 112 years, so many of the golfers haven’t caught the bug just yet. Not with majors right around the corner.
The leaders of golf’s major championships announced Monday that the gold medal winners for the men’s and women’s Olympic golf tournaments will receive exemptions into their respective major champions the following year.
The gold-medal winner of the men’s Olympic tournament will get a one-year exemption to qualify for the Masters, U.S. Open, The Open and the PGA Championship. The silver- and bronze-medal winners will be exempt from local qualifying for the U.S. Open.
The gold-medal winner of the women’s Olympic tournament will get a one-year exemption to the 2016 Evian Championship as well as the 2017 ANA Inspiration, the KPMG PGA Championship, the U.S. Women’s Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
“From our perspective, whether it’s someone that is in the top rankings of the world or someone who is that Cinderella story, in both ways it’s a positive,” Bevacqua said. “It’s a positive for golf; it’s a great story for golf and it’s certainly a positive for the PGA Championship, regardless of who comes out of that field, both on the men’s and women’s side, who qualifies for the championship.”
That means if they win, they will not only have won the first gold medals for golf in 112 years, but they will also have free entry into next years majors. All they have to do is show up and they can play. The only problem is, most of the tournaments are already formatted like that, so what they’ve done is made the Olympics mirror the rewards of existing tournaments.
The top 15 in the world automatically getting a spot in the field, with no more than four players per country eligible. While this makes it competitive, it’s also not an incentive to try and make the field when there are other tournaments they want to play in.
The only problem is that if you win the Masters, you are exempt until you die and you get 5 years worth of exemptions into the other majors. So there is still more of a focus to win the Masters than to go for the gold. By making it like every other tournament they’ve realized that they’re in a bad place and needed to do something to get major golfers enticed. The people in charge are clearly trying to make more of an effort and although I agree that the Olympics will be a great moment for golf, there still needs to be more incentive to get involved.
The world will be watching or at least have the ability to watch golf on the largest scale and root for their country. Not only will there be competitiveness but patriotism as well. Patriotism pairs with passion and passion is exactly what this sport needs more of.
First we have to see how the Masters goes, then we’ll discuss who we think will get the gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.