The LPGA elite embrace Olympic golf. PGA stars, not so much.

ATLANTA – The Olympic roster for men’s golf was finalized on Tuesday, with three top-12 invitees respectfully expressing their regret. Joining the world number 2, Dustin Johnson of the United States, who confirmed its decision in March, Britain’s 11th-ranked Tyrell Hatton and 12th-ranked South Africa’s Louis Osthuizen, who had finished second in the last two major tournaments. Oosthuizen said family commitments were partly responsible for his decision to bypass the Games, particularly after his recent purchase of an 86-acre horse farm in Ocala, Fla.

For Sofia Popov, family thoughts explain the fervent embrace of opportunity in the pursuit of a pandemic-delayed Olympic gold medal. 28-year-old Popov, who holds dual American and German citizenship, has won a place in a 60-player competition representing Germany and made a dream come true that, for various reasons, lives with his maternal grandmother, his mother and his Survived by elder brother.

“The Olympics is a big deal for me,” the current women’s British Open champion Popov said on Wednesday.

This year, as in 2016, golf’s shallow roots in the Olympics are being exposed by the limited interest of men in the Olympics. The women are a different story, jockeying fiercely for spots in the field, which will be finalized after the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship this week. The top 15 players in the world are eligible for the Olympics, which includes a maximum of four players from the same country. The rest of the field is filled according to ranking, with a maximum of two players per nation.

Due to the country cap, Popov, ranked 22nd, is gearing up for the Tokyo Games, while Eli Ewing, ranked 18th, is one of several Americans who, with a win at the Atlanta Athletic Club this week, vaulted to fourth. could. american player, Jessica Korda, who is ranked 13th, is 10 places behind her younger sister, Nelly. Among the Korda sisters are Americans Danielle Kang at No. 6 and Lexi Thompson at No. 7.

“Golf is going to be good this week, but it will definitely be a huge honour,” said Ewing, 28, who won her second LPGA Tour title last month. “I think one of the best things for me, besides being an Olympian, would be to run with other Olympians like Alison Felix and just the people I’ve seen on TV for so many years.”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Olympics will go ahead in a severely stripped-down version with limited crowds, no international fans, and restricted movement between venues for athletes and other members of the Olympic team.

“I think one of the big things is the Olympic experience and what I was able to do would not be possible for guys this year,” said Ricky Fowler, who competed in the men’s event in 2016, when golf Returned for the Games for the first time since 1904. “The Olympics in general are not going to be the same experience,” Fowler said Wednesday, speaking at a remote news conference from this week’s PGA Tour stop in Connecticut.

Women don’t care. They appreciate what the Olympics can provide: the opportunity to compete in front of the largest global audience at the Games.

“I think it was a great opportunity to really play on the same golf course as the men and show the world how good women golfers are,” said China’s 2016 bronze medalist Shanshan Feng.

She said: “I think we should do everything we can to support the sport and women’s golf. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that perhaps most or even all women who go to Tokyo do.”

Three weeks after the Olympic men’s golf event at Kasumigaseki Country Club, about 23 miles north of Tokyo, the PGA Tour is about to begin its three-tournament postseason to offer an overall purse of $60 million. The LPGA’s total purse for the 2021 season was expected to be $76.5 million.

“Those players can retire when they are finished with their careers,” Hannah Green of Australia, the 2019 Women’s PGA Champion, said, referring to their PGA Tour counterparts. But on the LPGA circuit, she continued, most players would retire from motherhood or some other full-time occupation.

“That perspective has probably changed, playing for the medal versus for the money,” Green said, adding that she would exchange her major title for a gold medal.

“I think because it’s so rare to get a gold medal — once every four years,” Green said, “I think everyone will notice, not just the golf world.”

Popov grew up loving the Olympics. His mother, Claudia Schwarzer Popov, was an exceptional swimmer at Stanford whose Olympic dreams were scuttled in 1980 by a US-led boycott and again in 1984 by an elbow injury.

Claudia’s mother, Sabine Schwarzer, qualified for Germany’s combined team in the high jump at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. But due to injury and moving to the United States to join her fiancée, she did not compete.

Popov’s brother Nicholas, who competed for the University of Arizona, swam in the 50 meters freestyle at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, but did not advance past the preliminary.

“He was kind of disappointed,” Popov said, adding that his brother had gone to London to see and cheer on his friends who had qualified.

Popov said, “The reason I couldn’t swim is all because of heartbreak. My mom was like, ‘I want to teach you guys to swim, but I won’t be mad if you don’t swim because It’s a very rewarding game.'”

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Popov would eventually participate in the Olympics, although his family would not travel to Tokyo to share the experience with him. It’s a small consolation, but her mother and brother joke about getting an Olympic ring tattoo, which should be a status symbol for all qualifiers.

They said they would have “brother” or “mother” written under the rings, Popov explained with a laugh. “I was like, you can do whatever you want.”

She said that their experiences have added to her inspiration. “I have two other people to represent me,” she said, “I think that could have happened in the past.”

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