Remember Rio? A brief recap of the 2016 Olympic golf competition
As golf gets ready to tee off for the Olympic Games, we decided to take a minute and remember the sport’s triumphant return to the 2016 Games in Brazil. Here’s what you might have forgotten about.
(Eds. note: But don’t miss this year’s edition! The men’s competition will air on Golf Channel from 6:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. ET Wednesday through Sunday, and the women’s event is 6:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. ET Aug. 3-7, also on Golf Channel.)
England’s Justin Rose and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, two long-time European Ryder Cup partners, took the top two spots. Rose closed with a four-under 67 to finish 16 under and win gold, two strokes ahead of Stenson, who took silver at 14 under. American Matt Kuchar took home the bronze by vaulting up the leaderboard with a final-round 63, which tied for the low score of the week.
For the women, who kick off a week after the men this year, South Korea’s Inbee Park was the gold-medal winner, finishing at 16 under and cruising to a five-stroke win over silver-medalist Lydia Ko of New Zealand. Shanshan Feng (10 under) took bronze for China. Stacy Lewis was the top American and tied for fourth at nine under.
A handful of players elected not to travel to Japan for this year’s Olympic Games. Louis Oosthuizen said “they didn’t really make it easy for us” in terms of scheduling, although some players were turned off by the threat of Covid-19 or heavy precautionary measures being taken.
A similar hesitation took place in 2016, but for different reasons. Rory McIlroy was among the star players who elected not to play due to fears of the Zika virus. He wasn’t alone in opting out. Adam Scott, Marc Leishman, Vijay Singh and Oosthuizen were also among a group that stayed back.
This year, however, McIlroy has changed his tune about the Olympics. He’s not necessarily looking forward to what will be an odd week in Japan, but he says he’s going because he “thinks it’s the right thing to do.”
The Rio de Janeiro Olympic Golf Course was built by Gil Hanse and is open to the public. It’s also one of the few remaining venues from the 2016 Games in Brazil and, when built, was advertised as the first public championship course in the country.
When it opened it had 79 bunkers and was meant to be played as links-style golf, urging players to use their creativity to get around it.
“Thankfully, at no point during the process did they ask us to modify or change the design in a way that we didn’t think was positive,” Hanse told The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2016, before the Games started. “The process of getting it built, that was the thing that lagged, and we weren’t given the resources to do it. But at the end of the day, the design really did turn out as we had hoped.”