Olympic Movers and Shakers – Week Ending April 2
Lydia Ko consolidated her lofty position as No.1 on the Olympic Rankings after capturing the first women’s major championship of the 2016 season, the ANA Inspiration, at Rancho Mirage, California. No, this wasn’t a mirage, as the New Zealand teenager collected back-to-back victories following the previous week’s Kia Classic and in the process became the youngest player to win two major titles in LPGA Tour history at the age of 18 years, 11months and 9 days.
A last-hole birdie landed the k.o. blow by Ko, who finished one shot ahead of England’s Charley Hull and In Gee Chun of Korea. Hull climbs from 20th to 15th in the Rankings while Chun moves above her compatriot, Amy Yang, to claim the current fourth spot on the Road to Rio in eighth position as Yang drops out.
Fourth place at the ANA Inspiration elevated Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn from 25th to 17th while Diana Luna comes into the top 60 in 53rd place at the expense of her fellow Italian, Giulia Molinaro.
“Ever since they announced that golf would be in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, I said I want to get myself to Brazil. That was going to be my ultimate goal, and I can’t believe it’s already around the corner. It’s just been a dream. I feel so fortunate that we’re getting this opportunity to be in the Olympics. Golf isn’t the most physical sport. It’s not the fastest sport, but it takes a lot of skills, a lot of hard work to get here and get to be in this position. So I think it’s great that golf is returning to the Olympics.” Lydia Ko.
Herman books his Masters ticket
Jim Herman, aged 38 and without a victory on the PGA Tour in his 16-year-career, ended that streak by holding off a group of would-be Olympians to win the Shell Houston Open. The American stood firm despite intense pressure from Henrik Stenson of Sweden, fellow American Dustin Johnston and the in-form Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello to became a winner at long last.
Herman proved that dreams do come true, and the same could be said about the chasing pack who will be dreaming of Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro in August. Stenson replaces Adam Scott as No.6 on the Olympic Ranking with Johnson up one place from ninth to eighth.
Cabrera-Bello, who finished third in the WGC-Dell Match Play the previous week, followed up with another strong performance to take fourth spot. He has moved ten spots in two weeks from 27th to 17th to chase his compatriot Sergio Garcia, who holds onto 14th position.
With Fiji’s double major champion Vijay Singh removing his name from the Olympic Rankings, Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh comes into the frame in 60th spot.
Brazil gets a taste for Olympic golf
Andrew Svoboda of the United States was a winner in Brazil 125 days ahead of the Olympic Games commencing in Rio de Janeiro.
A last hole birdie earned Svoboda a one stroke victory in the Brasil Champions presented by Embrase in Sao Paulo. However there were moments of excitement for the home supporters as three Brazilian players made the cut in, in the case of Alexandre Rocha, made the top 15.
Rocha, who was born and lives in Sao Paolo, finished tied 14th with Rafael Becker tied for 57th and Lucas Lee sharing 71st place. Currently, Adilson da Silva is the host country’s Olympic representative at No.58 in the Rankings.
“It’s nice to go to the Masters. This was the last ticket to Augusta. Packing up and heading right to Augusta. I don’t know how we did it. It’s over, but it still hasn’t sunk in. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. There were so many great players out there. Just very proud of myself the way I hung in there.” Jim Herman.