2016 Olympic Golf gold medalist Justin Rose believes a successful golf event at this year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympics is ‘critical’ for the sport’s future at the games. The former US Open champion wrote himself into the history books at the 2016 Games in Rio De Janeiro, after he became the first golfer to win Olympic gold in 112 years.
This title is of course one of Rose’s great achievements alongside his single-major title win at the 2013 US Open, and therefore is hoping this year’s tournament in Tokyo can take the sport even further forward as an Olympic event.
In an interview with the Telegraph Rose said: “On the back of Rio, I really hoped Japan would be the huge leap forward for golf in the Olympics.
“Brazil had flashed a number of question masks. Obviously, the Zika virus gave the opportunity for players not to turn up. But Japan was going to have everyone there, with massive crowds.”
However like the Rio games five years ago, Tokyo itself has also been stricken by virus, with the Covid-19 pandemic delaying the Games by a year and forcing events to be played without spectators, behind closed doors.
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As a result, with the ‘usual’ Olympic feel missing from Tokyo, Rose believes it is vitally important some of Golf’s biggest names perform on the Olympic stage.
“I mean, there’s no doubt there’s a good field with megastars like Rory [McIlroy] and now Collin [Morikawa] and it would be brilliant to see a tense Sunday with some of the big names involved. Because I think it’s critical for the success of golf in the Olympics.”
Despite the likes of McIlroy and Morikawa taking to the field, only three of the world’s top 10 players will feature in Tokyo, after Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau became the latest stars to withdraw, after both tested positive for Covid-19 this week..
The argument has already been previously made that golf should be one of the amateur events at the games, however the Olympic champion believes one of the sport’s most prized possessions should be competed for by golf’s best.
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He said: “Some say golf should feature the amateurs. I couldn’t disagree more. The Olympics should be the best against the best in every sport.
“If golf is to thrive in the Games the finest need to be there. Ultimately it will be up to the players to decide how important the Olympics is in golf.”
The Games’ next stop after Tokyo will be to Paris in three years’ time where the Olympic golf event will take place at Le Golf National, the home of Europe’s 2018 Ryder Cup win.
Paris’ flagship course played host to a Ryder Cup classic involving the world’s best in the game, and Rose is hoping the French course will have the same effect in 2024, as he eyes his own return to the Olympic circle.