Tour pros are playing for an extra prize these next 2 weeks

golf olympics

The next two weeks will feature a game within the game as PGA Tour players compete with their friends for a rare opportunity.

Getty Images

We are in the thick of championship season on the annual golf calendar, with two men’s majors complete and another just one week away. That calendar is extra juicy this year, with the Olympics competition squeezed into the schedule just a couple of weeks after the Open Championship. But qualifying for that special, every-four-years comp isn’t so simple. In fact, it’s a bit cutthroat. 

The next two weeks we’ll see the field finalized for the men’s Olympic Golf competition, but only after a massive event this week (the Memorial) and an even bigger one next week (the U.S. Open at Pinehurst). And one week after the men’s field is complete, the women’s will take final shape. So if August is Olympic Golf Season, then June is Olympic Golf Qualifying Season. Look no further than the battles waging out below.

An American shootout 

The only country that will field four golfers in the Olympics is the United States. Most countries will get two, and others will get only one, but the immense depth of talent has nine Americans in the top 15 of the World Ranking. Scottie Scheffler is locked in. So is Xander Schauffele, the defending Gold-medal winner. Wyndham Clark is almost a shoe-in at this point, barring multiple great weeks from multiple players chasing him. In the fourth slot, though, is absolute chaos. 

Collin Morikawa moved up into that final qualifying spot Monday, bumping Patrick Cantlay down to 9th in the world. Ranked 10th in the world is Max Homa, another American. Eleventh is Brian Harman, another American. Thirteenth and 14th are Sahith Theegala and Keegan Bradley, both slightly out of the hunt, but a win either of the next two weeks would make things really interesting for those two. Fractions of a point separate all these gentlemen, so something as simple as consecutive top 10s could book one of their tickets to Paris.

France is now LOCKED

Speaking of booked tickets to Paris, Victor Perez already did it. You may have tuned in for his chase of Robert MacIntyre Sunday night in Canada, where Perez fist-pumped his finishing birdie for a solo third. Was he simply thrilled to be a clubhouse leader? Perhaps. But all the qualifying points on offer in that solo third position elevated him to No. 84 in the world, an extra 30 spots higher than France’s next pro, Romain Langasque. He’ll join Matthieu Pavon on Team France in their home country. 

Canada’s friendly fire 

If the Americans are set for a shootout, we have to qualify the Canadian team chase a bit more like friendly fire. If only because the five men competing for two spots are really close friends. Nick Taylor, Corey Conners, Adam Hadwin, Taylor Pendrith and Mackenzie Hughes all spend a good bit of time together. They regularly play practice rounds together and some of them even attended college together. (Hughes, Pendrith and Conners all played together at Kent State.) But this year they’re all competing for Olympics spots and placement in the President Cup, held later this year in Montreal. 

Taylor is locked in for the Olympics — no Canadian has played as well as him the last 18 months. But Conners (45), Hadwin (59), Pendrith (64) and Hughes (65) are all vying for the second Canadian spot. Conners did himself a huge service with a Sunday 65 last weekend to finish solo 6th. Can someone take it from him?

LIV teammates’ dreams dashed

Back in 2021, it all had to feel simple. Joaquin Niemann and Mito Pereira, longtime junior golf competitors and pals from Chile — both competed in the Tokyo Olympics. They were still up-and-comers on the PGA Tour, but had to figure they would feature in future Olympics Games on behalf of their home country. Niemann soon won the Genesis Invitational, and Pereira nearly won the 2022 PGA Championship. It had to feel even more certain then. 

But both players left the PGA Tour for LIV Golf, which does not receive World Ranking points. Thus, both players would struggle to receive Olympic qualification. Niemann was able to punch his ticket via great form in a few DP World Tour events, but Pereira hasn’t made much of anything happen. He trails Cristobal Del Solar by just 14 spots in the World Ranking, but won’t have a chance to make it up as LIV Golf plays this week in Houston and Pereira is not qualified for next week’s U.S. Open. Even if Del Solar misses the cut at this week’s BMW Charity Pro-Am, his ranking won’t suffer enough for Pereira to slide by him. 

Spain’s second man 

We all know Jon Rahm will be competing for Spain in Paris, an event that will count toward the minimum four he needs to play in 2024 to maintain his DPWT status for next year’s Ryder Cup. But who will join him? David Puig is next in line, ranked 113th in the world. Hundredths of a point behind him is Adrian Otaegui, ranked 115th in the world. Hundredths of a point behind Otaegui is Jorge Campillo, ranked 117th. The latter two will play in the Scandinavian Mixed event on the DPWT this weekend, but none of them will be competing in the U.S. Open (barring a late push by Puig at final qualifying). This is easily the tightest chase among non-Americans for a spot in the Olympics. 

Sungjae’s last chance 

It feels fitting that Ben An has a spot in the Olympics at the moment. He played some incredible golf at the beginning of 2024, pushing ahead of Sungjae Im in the World Ranking. His parents are also both Olympians, having competed for South Korea and China in table tennis. An is ranked 26th in the world right now, but has to hold on tight as Im is just six spots behind. A couple top-20 finishes could be enough to flip that around. Both were battling with Tom Kim, right up until Kim finished T4 over the weekend in Canada, virtually guaranteeing himself a tee time in Paris.

Family affair Thunder Bear 

The No. 1 enemy in the Hojgaard household, at least right now, is Thorbjorn Olesen, aka Thunder Bear. Olesen won the Raw Al Khadijah Championship in January, which gave him just enough points to hold on to that second qualification spot on behalf of Denmark, pipping Rasmus Hojgaard on the chance to compete alongside his brother, Nicolai, who has already locked up his spot in the Olympics. 

Olesen is ranked 80th and Rasmus Hojgaard 96th, so there’s room for some magic to happen for the twins, but it’ll take a victory from Rasmus in the Scandinavian Mixed event this weekend. Neither player is qualified for the U.S. Open. 

Joining Hideki Matsuyama from Japan…

The final race for the men’s side of the Olympics came down to Japan, but it was just as close as any of the races above. Hideki Matsuyama is locked in, ranked 15th in the world. He fought hard during the 2020 Olympics in his home country, battling Xander Schauffele to the final hole, but walked away without a spot on the podium. 

Chasing the final Japanese spot is Keita Nakajima, ranked 86th, and Ryo Hisatsune, ranked 91st. The latter was competing in final qualifying Monday, but failed to advance, so it would appear his Olympics bid has come to a close and the final spot will be Nakajima’s if he’d like it. 

Sean Zak Editor

Sean Zak is a writer at GOLF Magazine and just published his first book, which follows his travels in Scotland during the most pivotal summer in the game’s history.

Watch, play, win. Chirp Golf is your home for the best of real money Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and Free-To-Play games.

Watch, play, win

Chirp Golf is your home for the best of real money Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and Free-To-Play games. Featuring simple to play. easy to learn, and fun games. Chirp Golf has something for every golf fan.

Scan to Download:

Google Play Apple Store