Tokyo Olympics: Golf

  • 01/01/2021

An official sport during the Modern Olympics' early years, golf returned to the schedule after more than a century at Rio 2016.

Brit Justin Rose took out the men's event, while Korean legend Inbee Park edged Kiwi Lydia Ko for the women's crown.

The United States dominate the historic medal table, with three golds and 11 total.

The game received a massive boost in Japan, with Hideki Matsuyama capturing the nation's first Major title at the 2021 Masters and Nasa Hataoka fell in a playoff at the US Women's Open.

After several years battling for form, Ko has returned somewhere near her best this year, finishing runner-up at the ANA Inspiration and claiming her first LPGA title in three years at the Lotte Championship in Hawaii.   

Ryan Fox looks likely to fill the NZ men's spot, after contesting the event five years ago.

Ryan Fox at the NZ Open
Ryan Fox at the NZ Open. Photo credit: Photosport

NZ Team

Five to Watch

Kim Si-Woo (South Korea)

A three-time winner on the PGA Tour, Kim Si-Woo could soon have his golfing career interrupted, as his home country of South Korea requires all males between the ages of 18-28 to fulfil a two-year military obligation.

Kim, whose biggest victory came when he won the 2017 Players Championship - golf's unofficial fifth Major - would only be granted an exemption for his military service if he were to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

Hideki Matsuyama (Japan)

The top-ranked Japanese golfer by far, Matsuyama was already widely considered a favourite for the men's golf competition in Tokyo, even before his Masters triumph in April made him the first Japanese golfer to win a men's Major championship.

Matsuyama will be in familiar surroundings when he makes his Olympics debut, as the Kasumigaseki Country Club hosting the golfing competition was also the site of one of his previous big wins - the 2010 Asian Amateur Championship.

Rory McIlroy (Ireland)

Rory McIlroy cited concerns about the Zika virus for sitting out the 2016 Rio Olympics, but later conceded he was also in the difficult position of having to pick between playing for either Ireland or Team Great Britain, which covers his home country of Northern Ireland.

McIlroy, a four-time Major champion and one of the game's most high-profile players, is aware his decision will ruffle some feathers, but has come to terms with his choice and embraced the chance to represent Ireland on the global stage.

Inbee Park in action on the LPGA Tour.
Inbee Park in action on the LPGA Tour. Photo credit: Getty

Inbee Park (South Korea)

Heralded as one of the greatest golfers in the women's game, Park Inbee is only four wins away from matching compatriot Pak Se-Ri's record for the most LPGA Tour wins by a South Korean, but says her top priority is to defend her Olympic title.

Park is in the midst of a solid season, one that she kicked off with a wire-to-wire, five-shot victory in March for her 21st LPGA Tour victory.

Shanshan Feng (China)

Chinese golf pioneer Shanshan Feng, who has turned heads on the course with her signature cow-print pants, is the first player from her country to win a Major championship, an Olympic medal in golf (bronze) and to be ranked world No.1.

The 31-year-old Feng only returned to action in April, after a 16-month hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic and a visa delay, but has shown solid form, as she targets a gold medal in Tokyo.