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Punch Shot: Who will be the three medalists at the men's Olympic event?

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Published in Golf
Wednesday, 28 July 2021 03:19

The Olympic Men's Competition gets underway Thursday at Kasumigaseki Country Club outside of Tokyo, Japan.

Who will stand on the podium? Who will just miss the medal ceremony? writers weigh with their predictions.

Who wins gold?

REX HOGGARD: Paul Casey. There was little in Justin Rose’s run-up to the 2016 Games to suggest the Englishman was on the cusp of a gold-medal winning performance, but though he lacked results, he had plenty of passion. Casey seems to have stepped in for Rose in Tokyo after making the Olympics his singular focus this year.

RYAN LAVNER: Viktor Hovland. In two short years he has proved his game can travel, he’s embracing the Olympic experience, and he enters the Games with a ton of confidence having a win (BMW International) and T-12 (Open) in his past two starts.

BRENTLEY ROMINE: Hideki Matsuyama. We haven't seen him in weeks because of his COVID-19 diagnosis, but he's here and ready to win Gold for the host country. With the course playing soft, that plays into a lot of these players' games, but especially Matsuyama. He also has some prior experience on this layout, too, though that was back in his amateur days.

Who wins silver?

HOGGARD: Collin Morikawa. Near-misses aren’t really a standard that professional golfers focus on, but at the Olympics, where finishing in the top 3 is a goal unto itself, consistency is rewarded and no one in this week’s field has been more consistent than Morikawa this season. He has eight top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour to go along with those two victories.

LAVNER: Collin Morikawa. He seems refreshed and ready, and if his putter is even remotely as hot as it was at Royal St. George’s, this will be another stellar debut.

ROMINE: Thomas Detry. The Belgian golfer and former Illinois standout has two runner-up finishes in each of the past two seasons on the European Tour. A runner-up, aka silver medal, would be fitting this week.

Who wins bronze?

HOGGARD: Abraham Ancer. One of the comparisons being made this week is that Kasumigaseki Country Club reminds players of Quail Hollow Club, which hosts the Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship. Ancer finished runner-up this year at Quail Hollow and is one of the few players staying in the Athlete’s Village and taking full advantage of the Olympic experience.

LAVNER: Paul Casey. One of the game’s most complete players, he arrives in solid form and has been arguably the most energized by the Olympics, knowing that at 44 it’s likely his last chance to represent Great Britain.

ROMINE: Collin Morikawa. No one is playing better golf right now, and if his putter stays hot, it will be hard to keep Morikawa off the podium.

Who just misses the podium?

HOGGARD: Xander Schauffele. Just behind Morikawa in the consistency department is his American teammate (seven top-10s this season), and there’s a sentimental element to this week’s Games for Schauffele, whose grandparents are from Japan. He may not reach the podium, but it will still be a special week for Schauffele.

LAVNER: Xander Schauffele. It’s a de-facto home game for Schauffele, whose family history could add a dose of pressure to the proceedings. Given his previous close calls, it’ll be interesting to see how he handles that stage. Maybe it’ll provide him the experience he needs to get over the top in the majors.

ROMINE: Sungjae Im. Everyone will likely be rooting for Im and fellow South Korean Si Woo Kim to win medals and avoid their mandatory military service, but the odds are certainly against them – Im is 25/1 and Kim 50/1. I expect Im to make things interesting, but ultimately I think he falls just short.

Who will make a name for himself?

HOGGARD: Adrian Meronk. It seems unlikely Meronk will win a medal, but he will make history in Japan nonetheless. Earlier this summer, the 28-year-old became the first player from Poland to play in a major championship at the U.S. Open, and this week he becomes the first golfer from his country to compete in the Olympics.

LAVNER: Mito Pereira. Overshadowed by fellow countryman Joaquin Niemann for the past few years (and for good reason), the Chilean is coming into his own and has enjoyed a strong three-month run. After earning an instant promotion to the PGA Tour, he has started to feel at home on the big Tour, with back-to-back top-6s. On the grandest stage in sports, it's time to learn more about him.  

ROMINE: Carl Yuan. Even if he doesn't come close to the medal stand, the Chinese golfer out of the University of Washington will likely be talked about throughout the tournament. He hasn't played on the Korn Ferry Tour since the Wichita Open in late June, and he finished that week ranked No. 27 on the tour's points list. However, he's since missed the last four KFT events – and slipped to No. 31 – in order to return to China for centralized Olympic training. With just two more regular-season events left on the KFT schedule, “I probably have to miss the rest of the season," Yuan said earlier this week. Of course, an Olympic medal would help ease the sting.

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