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Jul 05, 2016 | 08:38 am

Riophobia

With one week to go before the final field is set, the list of Olympic withdrawals continues, with the latest, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, making it an even dozen of the game’s top players saying no to Rio. Curiously, Riophobia seems to strike the citizens of certain nations more virulently than others, notably members of the British Commonwealth, with Australia and South Africa each showing three sufferers, along with the early Fijian victim, Vijay Singh. The Irish (McIlroy, McDowell, Lowery) also seem strangely vulnerable to the condition. But there’s no hint of Brexit as Englishmen Danny Willett and Justin Rose stand with Europeans Garcia, Stenson, Molinari, Kaymer, Dubuisson, et al, ready to board the plane to Brazil, along with Americans Johnson, Spieth, Watson, and Fowler. The current field of 60 qualifiers, which shouldn’t change much this week, with the Greenbrier Classic cancelled because of floods, can be found at http://www.igfgolf.org/olympic-games/qualification-system/ogr-men/

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Jul 04, 2016 | 06:32 am

Royal Troon Admits Women

You could say that they cut it a little close, but at least they did the right thing in the end. Royal Troon, preparing to hold the Open Championship for the ninth time next week, has voted—overwhelmingly, according to reports—to accept female members. That means the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, or Muirfield, is the only club with a course in the Open rota currently opposed to admitting women, and supposedly the club is planning another vote after a policy change just barely missed getting the necessary two-thirds majority a few weeks ago. Martin Cheyne, captain of Royal Troon, said, “We have said a number of times that it is important for golf clubs to reflect the society in which we exist and the modern world that looks to us. It is the right decision for the club today and for generations of golfers that will follow.” To no surprise, the R&A was pleased with the club’s decision, saying “we can now look forward to many more great championships at Royal Troon in years to come.” And no embarrassing questions this year.

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Jul 01, 2016 | 06:30 am

Why The Pros Are Saying No To Rio

Like presidential campaigns and celebrity marriages, Olympic golf is a story that changes every day. Just when we think the last name player has excused himself from his national team—Australia’s Jason Day being the latest, following on the heels of Rory McIlroy—someone else comes along. But try putting yourself in their cleated shoes and think about why a trip to Rio in August isn’t that compelling.

There’s the Zika scare, of course, with many men publicly worrying about its effects on their families, current and future. But none of the top women golfers—who certainly should be mindful of the possible health effects on their bodies and babies—have said they won’t play.

Instead, look at golf’s summer calendar: In a space of just a few weeks, the top players will head across the Atlantic for the Open Championship (July 14-17), to Canada for the Canadian Open (July 21–24), back to the U.S. for the PGA Championship (July 28–31), down to Rio (August 11–14), back to the U.S. for a few weeks before the FedEx Cup craziness starts in late August, and then, for the American and European players, the Ryder Cup at the end of September. That’s a lot of high-pressure golf—and travel—in just a few months, private planes or not.

Adam Scott—who was among the first players to bag Brazil—recently chimed in with another potential downer, the format for Olympic play: “Just having another 72-hole golf tournament with a weaker-than-most field doesn’t really pique my interest,” he said the other day before the start of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone, which is, by the way, yet another tough tournament on a tough track in the heat of summer.

Need another reason? Everyone knows the Olympics are for glory rather than money, but honestly, many of the Tour pros have been there, done that: They can get their patriotic juices flowing at the Ryder and Presidents Cup every year or two, so perhaps the idea of battling for flag and country holds less appeal.

And if you think the calendar-changing and globe-traveling arguments are done, wait until 2020 when the Olympics will be in Japan from July 24–August 9. As a number of newspapers have put it, “It took golf 112 years to get back into the Olympics, but for how long?”

 

Photographs: Andy Altenburger, Mark Alberti, David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire

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Jun 30, 2016 | 06:33 am

For July 4th, Show Your True Colors

It’s not too late. July 4th is a few days away, which still gives you a chance to pick up some stars-and-stripes-themed golf apparel and accessories. Here are a few of our favorite ways to show your spirit.

  • Loudmouth Golf’s new “Flagadelic” shorts (97% cotton, 3% spandex) are $79.50 from the company’s website.
  • Kentwool is offering a new USA Collection with five different red, white, blue, and starred sock designs. Order quickly and each pair is $17.76 (regularly $19.95), with a mix-and-match pack for $35.
  • Walter Hagen produces a men’s Americana golf shirt with a flag motif that is now available for $48.99 (down 15% from the original $58 price) from Dick’s Sporting Goods.
  • Seamus Golf’s American Flag head cover is made from 100% wool milled in the Pacific Northwest. Each driver cover (hybrid also available) contains 50 stars and 13 individual stripes, costs $195, and comes with a free American flag bag tag.
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