ZIMBABWE’S leading professional golfer Brendon de Jonge is in pole position to represent the country at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, according to the first Olympic Rankings for golf unveiled this week.
De Jonge is on position 31 in the first Olympic Golf Rankings and would earn a spot in the field at the 2016 Rio Olympics if he maintains a place in the top 60 until the cutoff date of July 11 2016.
According to the qualifying criteria announced by the International Gold Federation (IGF), the top 15 players on the Olympic Rankings for golf will qualify for the tournament, although there will be a maximum of four players from any country.
After the top 15, the rankings will be used to fill out the remaining 44 spots, with hosts Brazil receiving the 60th and final spot if no player from that country has already qualified.
However, Adilson da Silva, who was only 19 years old when he came to Zimbabwe before making Royal Harare Golf Club his home, is the favourite to represent Brazil at the Olympics as he is currently ranked on position 55 on the Olympic Rankings.
Golf will make a return at the Olympic Games in Rio for the first time in more than a century after the sport was last played at the third Olympiad in Saint Louis, the US, in 1904. An Olympic berth would be another feather in the cap of the 34-year-old De Jonge, who has represented Zimbabwe at two World Cups.
He made his World Cup debut at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup of Golf in Hainan Island, China, in 2011, combining with fellow US-based professional Bruce McDonald to help Zimbabwe to a respectable tie for 11th position.
Last year De Jonge was the country’s sole representative at the ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf in Melbourne, Australia, where he once again lifted the country’s flag high as Zimbabwe finished tied for 12th position.
Olympic Golf Rankings: 1 Adam Scott (AUS), 2 Rory McIlroy (IRL), 3 Henrik Stenson (SWE), 4 Justin Rose (GBR), 5 Sergio Garcia (ESP), 6 Bubba Watson (USA), 7 Matt Kuchar (USA), 8 Jason Day (AUS), 9 Tiger Woods (USA), 10 Jim Furyk Thongchai Jaidee (THA), 20 Bernd Wiesberger (AUT), 29 Matteo Manassero (ITA), 30 KJ Choi (KOR), 31 Brendon de Jonge (ZIM), 32 Anirban Lahiri (IND), 33 Hyung-Sung Kim (KOR), 34 Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN), 35 Fabrizio Zanotti (PAR), 36 David Hearn (CAN), 37 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA), 38 Alexander Levy (FRA), 39 Marcel Siem (GER), 40 Felipe Aguilar (NED), 48 Wu Ashun (CHN), 49 Vijay Singh (FIJ), 50 Camilo Villegas (COL), 51 Danny Lee (NZL), 52 Tim Wilkinson (NZL), 53 Chan Shih-Chang (TPE), 54 Antonio Lascuna (PHI), 55 Adilson da Silva (BRA), 56 Juvic Pagunsan (PHI), 57 Jhonattan Vegas (VEN), 58 Roope Kakko (FIN), 59 Ricardo Santos (POR), 60Thomas Pieters (BEL).