The U.S. Open was the last qualifying event to determine the field of the 2021 Olympics next month in Japan.
While many players that are eligible, like U.S. Open winner and newly-minted World No. 1 Jon Rahm of Spain have already committed, others are either on the fence or have decided that they are unwilling to make the trip, like Dustin Johnson, who said months ago he would not play.
“I pulled out,” Germany’s Martin Kaymer said after his final round at the U.S. Open on Sunday. “The main reason is when I went to Rio, the main thing was enjoying the Olympic experience, communicating with other athletes, learning from each other. Respecting each other’s success in the sports that they do.”
With the COVID protocols put in place at this year’s Olympics by the Japanese government, Kaymer would not be able to socialize with other athletes or go watch other events. Instead, he will be restricted to his hotel room, transported to and from the hotel to the golf course, which is a considerable distance from downtown Tokyo.
“I don’t want to support an event that I believe should not go ahead in the first place,” Kaymer said, expanding on his reason not to participate. “I also think that a lot of the Japanese people, what you hear in the media, are not for the Olympic games, so if you respect the majority of the people who live in Japan and see the bigger picture of the world and not only maybe the money and the benefit of some people, then I think you should not support an event like that.”
Kaymer made it clear he is a huge Olympic fan and would absolutely play if he qualifies in three years.
Xander Schauffele, on the other hand, hasn’t decided. “I haven't really made a decision yet. It's something I was going to decide tonight or tomorrow morning,” the 27-year-old Schauffele said Sunday. “Logistics are tricky. There's no opening ceremony, no experience of Japan.
“You’re kind of locked down in your hotel. You can't go and see other venues or events. In terms of an actual Olympics, obviously, you're playing for some hardware, some gold medals and whatnot, but the overall experience, which I hear is really cool, isn't going to be there in Japan this year. That would be a reason not to go, I'd say.”
While others are excited about participating, the Olympics are clearly not going to be the experience that many had five years ago in Rio, but many of those who are in the field are still willing to make the trip.
“I'm going. I'm so excited,” Collin Morikawa said. “It's going to be one of the best things of my life. To think back that I was an amateur two years ago, literally two years ago, and to be on this team and to be heading to Tokyo puts a smile on my face.”
The International Golf Federation will put a list of 60 players together by June 22 and deliver it to the Olympic organizers.
The list will include players in the top 15 of the Official World Golf Ranking, with a limit of four players from each country. Beyond the top 15, players will be eligible based on the world rankings, with a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top 15.
“I grew up watching the Olympics on TV, Italian Guido Migliozzi said after his tie for fourth at the U.S. Open. “To be able to play in an Olympics is a dream come true. It will be another monster week.”
More Final-Round Coverage From 2021 U.S. Open:
- Rahm wins U.S. Open for First Major Title, by Gary Van Sickle
- How Rahm Finally Learned to Keep His Cool, by Michael Rosenberg
- Daily Question: Which Contender Should Feel Worst About Missed Opportunity?
- How Much Did Luck Play a Role on Sunday? by Alex Miceli
- Phil Mickelson Slumps on Weekend, Now 0-for-30 at U.S. Open, by Mike Purkey
- Mackenzie Hughes Gets Bad Bounce, Worse Break, by Mike Purkey
- Sights and Scenes From Final Round
- Olympic Qualifying Complete, but Top Players Mixed on Participation