It will be a challenge for Team USA to capture any medals in Rio.
Bubba Watson will not win gold at this year’s Olympics. The 37-year-old major champion will find it hard to even medal for the United States. After 54 holes, Watson is in fourth (-6), three strokes behind Australian Marcus Fraser and five strokes behind leader Henrik Stenson of Sweden.
In an Olympics in which the U.S. has flat out dominated the competition, with 60 medals (19 more than second place China), golf will very likely be one of the only sports where they do not medal.
Coming into the Rio Olympics, the U.S. was poised to capture gold in golf on the men’s side. As per the qualification rules, the U.S. was allowed to send four golfers to the tournament. Going by world golf ranking, talent, or publicity, one would expect America’s lineup to read out something like Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, and Rickie Fowler.
Much has been publicized about the slew of world-best golfers who have foregone their eligibility for Rio. While Johnson and Spieth cited Zika and scheduling concerns, Watson and Fowler stood ready to represent the stars and stripes. Their supporting cast of Matt Kuchar and Patrick Reed, two excellent golfers in their own right, were obvious second choices.
On realizing his Olympic dream, Watson had these words:
USA GOLF (@USAGolf) August 13, 2016
The future of Olympic golf is uncertain after Tokyo in 2020. IOC president Thomas Bach hinted at the possibility of golf being dropped after the Tokyo games due to the heavy absence of many top players.
“One of the main categories of the evaluation is, of course, the question of participation of the best players,” Bach said (golfchannel.com).
Even if Watson’s commitment and overall quality of play in the Olympics doesn’t net him a bronze medal, the No. 6 golfer in the world has at least proven that some top players are willing to treat the Olympics like a top-level event.
The final round begins at 6 a.m. ET. While Watson and the rest of Team USA are out to prove that the Olympics are an honor and privilege to compete in, let’s also hope putts like these stay far away from Rio.
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- Bubba Watson
- Henrik Stenson
- Justin Rose
- Rickie Fowler