Top-ranked golfer Scottie Scheffler ‘definitely’ wants to represent Team USA at Paris Olympics

Top-ranked golfer Scottie Scheffler ‘definitely’ wants to represent Team USA at Paris Olympics

play

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – World No. 1 golfer Scottie Scheffler doesn’t seem much for trash-talking.

But then again, he’s never been an Olympian before.

“It’d be a nice little thing to be able to trash talk my buddies about when they say golfers aren’t athletes, and I can claim I’m an Olympian,” Scheffler said with a smile.

Scheffler, at Valhalla for this week’s PGA Championship a little more than a month after the birth of his son, confirmed Tuesday that he “definitely” wants to be part of Team USA at this summer’s Paris Olympics.

That’s welcome news for Team USA. Not so much, though, for the rest of the world’s golfers headed to Paris in search of a gold medal the first week in August.

Scheffler is far and away the world’s top-ranked men’s golfer after wins in four of his last five starts, a dominant run that included victories at The Players Championship and The Masters. As a result, Scheffler’s spot at Le Golf National is all but a certainty with a little more than a month until the field of men’s Olympic qualifiers is finalized on June 17, the day after the U.S. Open.

There might be some drama until then for other Americans, though.

Since Olympic golf fields are limited to 60 for the men’s and women’s four-round tournaments, each country is only allowed a maximum of four golfers in each event. And that makes things highly competitive for the United States, which has six of the top 10 men’s players in this week’s latest Olympic Golf Rankings.

Scheffler (No. 1), Xander Schauffele (No. 3), Wyndham Clark (No. 4) and Patrick Cantlay (No. 8) would qualify as of this week, but Max Homa (No. 9), Brian Harman (No. 10), Sahith Theegala (No. 12) and Collin Morikawa (No. 13) are within reach. The order of alternates might matter, too, as there’s no guarantee all four U.S. qualifiers would choose to play.

Schauffele, who won gold at the previous Games in Tokyo, indicated recently to Golf Monthly that he wants to play in another Olympics should he qualify for Paris.

Homa has been eyeing the standings, too. He said Tuesday that it is “on the tip of my mind” to play well enough in the coming weeks to make the U.S. Olympic team.

“As a golfer, I don’t think the Olympics ever feels like a real thing we’re going to do,” Homa said, “and then you get a chance, and now I would really like to be a part of that.”

In the women’s rankings, Tokyo gold medalist Nelly Korda (No. 1), Lilia Vu (No. 2), Rose Zhang (No. 6) and Megan Khang (No. 15) are on pace to represent the United States.

Golf wasn’t part of the Olympics for more than a century before returning at the Rio Games in 2016. That year, Matt Kuchar (bronze medalist), Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed represented the United States. In Tokyo, Schauffele was joined by Morikawa (who lost a playoff for the bronze medal), Justin Thomas and Reed.

Olympic qualification is based on world golf rankings, which makes it difficult for golfers on the LIV tour to earn the points. A few exceptions are in position to qualify, like Jon Rahm of Spain and Joaquin Niemann of Chile, but Golf Magazine reported earlier this year that LIV player Brooks Koepka had withdrawn from consideration for the Olympic team. It’s doubtful that Koepka would have qualified for Team USA, anyway.

While it’ll be a small field in France, it should still be a star-studded one. Rory McIlroy (Ireland), Ludvig Aberg (Sweden), Viktor Hovland (Norway), Tommy Fleetwood and Matt Fitzpatrick (Great Britain), Hideki Matsuyama (Japan) and Jason Day (Australia) are each among the top projected players.

“It would be an amazing experience,” Homa said, “and something I’m very, very much gunning for over the next few golf tournaments.”

Reach sports columnist Gentry Estes at gestes@gannett.com and on X: @Gentry_Estes.

Related Articles