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Golf featured in the Summer Olympic Games in 1900 and 1904 but wasn’t played again until 2016, when it was reintroduced to the Olympic programme. With plenty of big name players, from both the men and women’s game, already making known their intentions to play at the tournament, it looks set to be a much bigger and hotly contested event than Rio 2016.
Here’s our brief guide to golf at Tokyo 2020.
The Olympic Games run from 24 July – 9 August 2020, with the golf starting six days after the opening ceremony. The men’s tournament runs from 30 July – 2 August and the women’s from 5 – 8 August. Four rounds are scheduled over four consecutive days of play. If you are thinking of watching the golf in person, or playing whilst you are there – don’t forget your to buy your Worldwide Golf Travel Insurance.
Players will do battle over 72 holes of strokeplay on the Kasumigaseki Country Club’s East Course in Kawagoe, Saitama, northwest of Tokyo. Seeing play since 1929, it is one of Japan’s oldest golf courses. It hosted the Canada Cup in 1957, the Japan Open Golf Championship in 1933, 1956, 1995, and 2006 and the Asian Amateur Championship in 2010.
As usual, the yardage will be different for the men and women’s events but for both it seems that the par-4 ninth hole, 521 yards from the tournament tee, will be the most tricky hole and the extreme heat and humidity of a Tokyo summer will pose an additional challenge for the players.
The Olympic field is restricted to 60 players for each of the men’s and women’s competitions and qualification will be based on world ranking as of 22 June 2020 (men) and 29 June 2020 (women). The top-15 world-ranked players of each sex will qualify, with a limit of four players per country. The remaining spots will go to the highest-ranked players from countries that do not already have two golfers qualified. At least one golfer from the host nation and each geographical region (Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania) will be given a spot.
In the women’s competition Jin Young Ko from South Korea is currently in the top qualifying spot, with Charley Hull and Bronte Law, likely to be the players representing Great Britain and Northern Ireland (GBR). The current No1 in the men’s rankings is Rory McIlroy, who will be representing Ireland rather than GBR. The two Brits who are in qualifying position at the moment are Tommy Fleetwood and 2016 gold medallist, Justin Rose. The roll down places are likely to go to any two out of Paul Casey, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Lee Westwood, Danny Willett and Tyrrell Hatton. It looks like there will be more top players competing in Tokyo than in Rio where 27 competitors, including the top four male golfers in the world, chose not to compete due to the Zika Virus. However, it could be that another virus threatens this year’s Olympics, with the Coronavirus likely to have some impact on the Games.
Winning gold in 2016 Justin Rose has shown that he can handle the pressure of the Olympics and could again challenge for the title or medal. Although currently ranked just outside of the top ten, Japanese players, Hideki Matsuyama and Shugo Imahira, could benefit from home advantage. In the women’s game it is likely to be South East Asian players that will dominate and fourth ranked Nasa Hataoka (JPN) could again benefit from being on home turf. The 2016 winner, Inbee Park, has yet to qualify and is currently ranked behind four other South Korean players! However, she has shown that she is on form by winning the Women’s Australian Open in February.
Team GB Live (Team GB’s official travel operator and only Authorised Ticket Reseller for Tokyo 2020) is offering a number of packages to watch the golf in person but it’s not cheap! The cheapest option is a six night package starting at £6,975. Seven night packages start from £7,465, with the most expensive package, which includes business class flights and 7 nights’ accommodation at the Tokyo Hilton, setting you back a whopping £17,445! A cheaper option is of course to stay at home and watch it on the TV but with Japan being eight hours ahead of the UK during the Games, you will have to get up early to catch it live!