This Week Is the U.S. Open, but the 2024 Olympic Golf Tournament Looms

Pinehurst marks the last chance for players to earn spots for Paris and Bob Harig explains how the fourth position for the U.S. team is up for grabs.
Xander Schauffele will have a chance to defend his Olympic title, but his teammates aren't fully determined.
Xander Schauffele will have a chance to defend his Olympic title, but his teammates aren't fully determined. / Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports

More Weekly Read: Three players from 1999, 2024 U.S. Opens

DUBLIN, Ohio — It didn’t get much notice when Collin Morikawa and Patrick Cantlay traded places last week in the Official World Golf Ranking. Both are among the top 10 in the world, secure in all the big tournaments for the rest of the year and beyond—except one.

The Olympic Golf Tournament.

By going from ninth to eighth, one spot ahead of Cantlay, Morikawa also moved into position to snag the last of four available spots to Americans who are ranked among the top 15 in the world.

The U.S. Open this week is the last qualifying event to decide the 60-player field for the Olympic Games in France, with the men’s tournament being played two weeks after the British Open.

No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and reigning PGA champ Xander Schauffele—who won the Gold Medal in Japan in 2021—are locks to represent the United States at Le Golf National outside of Paris.

Defending U.S. open champion Wyndham Clark is all but assured of a spot. But depending on what happens at Pinehurst No. 2, several players including Cantlay, Max Homa, Brian Harman, Sahith Theegala and Keegan Bradley have a chance to displace Morikawa, who moved up a spot in the OWGR with his second-place finish Sunday at the Memorial.

“Cantlay is right behind,” Morikawa said at Muirfield Village. “I think there’s still six, seven eight guys ... I think a lot of movement can happen. I knew two, three months ago where I stood, and I knew I had to start playing some good golf and we’ve played some good golf to put myself in contention. These weeks are going to be big and I know what’s at stake.”

Morikawa, who was eighth in the world heading to the Memorial and is now seventh, was outside the top 20 just before the Masters, where he tied for third. A tie for ninth at the RBC Heritage, a tie for fourth at the PGA Championship and a fourth at the Charles Schwab Challenge helped his cause.

Cantlay has not helped himself of late, with a tie for 53rd at the PGA and a missed cut at the Memorial.

The Olympic format takes two players per country based on the Official World Golf Ranking. The top 15 are eligible with a maximum of two per country beyond the top 15. The official Olympic ranking is here, updated each Monday after tournaments.

And it is setting up to be a good tournament. Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry should play for Ireland; Viktor Hovland for Norway; Tommy Fleetwood and Matt Fitzpatrick for Great Britain; Ludvig Aberg for Sweden; Tom Kim and Ben An for South Korea; Hideki Matsuyama for Japan; Jon Rahm and David Puig for Spain; Nick Taylor and Corey Conners for Canada; Jason Day and Min Woo Lee for Australia; Joaquin Niemann for Chile; Matteo Manassero for Italy.

But a good bit can change this week. The Canadian players see plenty of competition and Puig probably needs to make the cut at the U.S. Open in order to hold his spot.

There is still a possibility that some players could opt out and also the chance for plenty of movement with the volatility of a major championship this week.

“We’ve had other things that I’ve had to play for whether it’s Ryder Cups or Presidents Cups,” Morikawa said. “You’re on the inside of the six. It’s added things that you think about but you’ve got to be strong enough mentally to just not worry about that when you tee off.”

Tiger and the U.S. Open

For the first time since 2020, Tiger Woods will compete in a U.S. Open, this time at Pinehurst No. 2, where he was tied for third in 1999 and second in 2005. He missed the event 10 years ago as he was recovering from his first microdiscectomy, a back procedure he’s now had four times and that occurred most recently just a few months after that missed cut at Winged Foot four years ago.

Woods still battles back problems and there are of course the issues associated with the injuries to his lower right leg in the 2021 car crash. How he looks this week will again be of interest, but a month ago Woods endured some of the same issues in missing the cut at the PGA Championship, where a relative lack of sharpness cost him.

Collin Morikawa recently took part in a clinic with Woods as part of his Tiger Jam fundraiser in Las Vegas, and it was during that time together that the two-time major champion could witness up close the skills Woods still possesses.

“He was making fun of me not being able to hit a draw, so I hit a draw, it was like a 5-yard draw,” Morikawa said. ”And then he hit a hook and I swear he was aiming like 3 feet from the line of people that were on the right side. The skill and the feel is still all there, right? So you wouldn't know (he has physical issue). But you add that over time, over 18 holes, over a course of 72 holes, the entire week of prep, look, the guy's been through a lot.”

Woods received a special exemption to play in the U.S. Open after not being exempt for a major championship for the first time since the 1996 PGA Championship. A nine-time USGA champion, Woods won the U.S. Open three times. Woods arrived at Pinehurst on Sunday to begin preparations.

On Tuesday, he will be honored by the USGA with the Bob Jones Award, the organization’s highest honor given for “a commitment to sportsmanship and golf’s time-honored traditions.”

Johnny Miller was given the award in 2023 and past recipients have included Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Mickey Wright and Annika Sorenstam. The award dates to 1955 when it was first given to Francis Ouimet.

An interesting Jon Rahm sponsorship ... and other notes

Last year Jon Rahm signed a sponsorship deal with Maestro Dobel, a large tequila company. Rahm made more news last week when it was announced that Maestro Dobel is also becoming a sponsor of his Legion XIIII LIV Golf team. The move is interesting because Maestro Dobel is also a PGA Tour sponsor.

The deal with Rahm’s team was described as a multi-year “alliance” and Sports Business Journal reported it is worth low seven figures per year. Rahm signed as a brand ambassador with the company in early 2023.

Maestro Dobel has been an “Official Marketing Partner” of the PGA Tour since 2021 and so far that has not changed. To this point, since LIV Golf debuted in 2022, there has been little if any crossover in sponsors between the two and PGA Tour sponsors have been discouraged to do business with LIV Golf.

And a few more things

Folds of Honor officially kicked off a new program at the Memorial Tournament where it will recognize the families of military service members in communities holding tournaments. At each event, 13 local families will be awarded Folds of Honor scholarships. The program is called “Folds of Honor Friday” and will include the playing of the national anthem at a certain point in the day, depending on the event. It will take place at participating PGA Tour, Korn Ferry Tour and PGA Tour Champions events.

The program was unveiled during the second round of the Memorial and tournaments will encourage spectators to wear red, white and blue with ribbons and pins provided on site. Folds of Honor was founded by Lt Col. Dan Rooney, an F-16 pilot who also became a PGA golf professional. Folds of Honor provides educational scholarships to the children and spouses of fallen or disabled military service members and first responders. Since its inception in 2007, it has awarded over 52,000 scholarships valued at about $244 million.

Scottie Scheffler’s victory at the Memorial was his fifth in eighth starts and he is the first player since Arnold Palmer in 1962 to go into the U.S. Open with five PGA Tour victories in a season. ... Scheffler has won the Masters, the Players and three signature events. He joined Tiger Woods as the only players to win the Players, Masters, Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Memorial in the same year. Woods did it in 2001. ... Adam Scott is going to get into the U.S. Open after all and will run his major championship streak to 92 straight. Only 18 players in history have competed in 100 majors and Jack Nicklaus, at 146, is the only one to have played in at least 100 in a row. Scott is exempt for the British Open as well as next year’s Masters and should qualify for the PGA via the top 100 in the OWGR at the least. That would bring him to 95 straight, if healthy. ... With his third-place finish at the Memorial, Adam Hadwin earned the British Open’s lone exemption from the tournament via its Open Qualifying Series. The spot at Royal Troon goes to the highest finisher in the field not otherwise exempt. ... The PGA of America is still waiting on a decision from Woods on the U.S. Ryder Cup captaincy and CEO Seth Waugh says there is a contingency plan yet to be made public in case Woods declines. But one thing he won’t be doing is offering the job to Woods for both 2025 at Bethpage Black and 2027 at Adare Manor in Ireland. There had been some suggestions that Woods ought to be just given the job for the next two and let him lean on his vice captains and new Ryder Cup manager John Wood. “Let’s see him do it first,” Waugh said.

Published |Modified
Bob Harig


Bob Harig is a senior golf writer for Sports Illustrated. He has more than 25 years experience covering golf, including 15 at ESPN. Bob is a regular guest on Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio and has written two books, DRIVE: The Lasting Legacy of Tiger Woods and Tiger and Phil: Golf's Most Fascinating Rivalry. He graduated from Indiana University where he earned an Evans Scholarship, named in honor of the great amateur golfer Charles (Chick) Evans Jr. Bob, a former president of the Golf Writers Association of America, lives in Clearwater, Florida.