After not seeing golf at the Olympics since 1904, we saw the long awaited return for the great sport at the Rio Games in 2016. 60 players took to the course at Olympic Golf Course, and after the four rounds it was Justin Rose who bought home gold for Great Britain. Lucky enough for golf fans, it has kept its spot as one of 33 sports at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
There has of course been COVID related issues in the lead up to the event, with world number 1 Jon Rahm, as well as American Bryson DeChambeau having to withdraw from the games due to contracting Coronavirus, they have been replaced by Jorge Campillo and Patrick Reed respectively. These two big names aside, Tokyo has been able to attract some of the biggest players in the sport including Morikawa, Reed, McIlory and Thomas.
The overall format for the Olympics is relatively similar to any other PGA or European Tour Event. There will be 72 holes of stroke play contested over four days. This weekend however, there is no cut, only 60 players in the field, with no more than 4 players from any country.
See below our top 5 picks for this weekend below.
Number 5: Patrick Reed (USA)
The American was a late call up for the Olympic team, however, we don’t think this will have any negative impact on his chances in Tokyo. This will be Reed’s second appearance at the Olympics, after a T11 finish in Rio. While form may not be on his side, with no top-15 finish his last 5 starts, including a missed cut at The Open, we know how Reed can flick a switch when it comes to representing his country, earning the nickname “Captain America” from his heroics at the Ryder Cup. Even better, he doesn’t have to play with a team mate at the Olympics!
Number 4: Cameron Smith (AUS)
To keep in the Aussie spirit, we had to include one of our countrymen in the top 5. However, many are picking the Aussie to have a good week in Tokyo. Smith was in stellar form to begin the year, including a 10th
place finish at The Masters in April. Smith will be teamed up with good friend Marc Leishman as they look to cap off what has been a good few weeks for Australian golf, including wins for deadly brother sister combo Min Woo and Minjee Lee and Bendigo youngster Lucas Herbert.
Number 3: Justin Thomas (USA)
If past form is anything to go by, JT is best suited to the conditions in Tokyo, with 4 of his 14 wins on the PGA Tour coming in Asia. That includes the 2015 & 2016 CIMB Classic as well as the CJ Cup in 2017 & 2019 before it got moved back to America. Thomas has said he loves the feeling of representing his country and his performances at the Presidents & Ryder Cup show that his game seems to thrive as well. When JT is on and dialled in, he is virtually unstoppable, we think he is a good chance to recapture this form in Tokyo.
Number 2: Collin Morikawa (USA)
British Open Champion in his first start. USPGA Champion in his first start. Olympic Gold Medallist in his first start? Maybe! There is no doubt that Morikawa is the most inform player heading into the Olympics, his past 3 results being a 2nd
place finish at the Memorial Tournament, 4th
place at the US Open and of course winning the Open Championship just 2 weeks ago. With the tournament taking place at a relatively unknown course, recent form alone may be a good enough reason to back him to get a gold medal at Tokyo.
Number 1: Hideki Matsuyama (JPN)
After contracting Coronavirus, Hideki has had to take some time away from the Tour, having not completed an event since his 26th
place finish at the US Open. However, as Jon Rahm has proved, a COVID forced break may not be the worst thing for your game, as he was able to win the US Open in his first tournament back. Another thing that Matsuyama has over his competitors is his course knowledge, having won the 2010 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at Kasumigaseki Country Club. This win got him into the 2011 Masters, which he finished as leading amateur, and then of course, won the Masters earlier this year. We sense a pattern here and think that Hideki will be hard to beat at a course that he seems to know well.