Here We Go Again: Tokyo Governor Calls On 2020 Olympic Golf Venue To Admit Women

Amlan Chakraborty of Reuters says Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike has asked Kasumigaseki Country Club to admit women as full members.

"I feel very uncomfortable about women not being able to become a regular member in this era," Koike told reporters on Friday.

And for good measure, the club that will host the 2020 Olympic golf, bars women on Sundays. Unreal.

You really have to wonder how this slipped through the Tokyo 2020 vetting process for the course.

Rory: "I hate that term 'growing the game'...golf was here long before we were, and it's going to be here long after we're gone."

Part 1 of Rory McIlroy's open and engaging chat with the Independent On Sunday's Paul Kimmage is worth a read, and while his comments about the Olympics got most of the attention, the grow-the-game views and his comments on Tiger stood out.

On the Olympics, he explains himself well and, in hindsight, probably would not have had to wheel out Zika if he'd just said what he tells Kimmage. Then again, his grow the game remarks might have gotten him a lecture from Mssrs Dawson and Finchem.

RM: Well, I'd had nothing but questions about the Olympics - 'the Olympics, the Olympics, the Olympics' - and it was just one question too far. I'd said what I needed to say. I'd got myself out of it, and it comes up again. And I could feel it. I could just feel myself go 'Poom!' and I thought: 'I'm going to let them have it.'

PK: (Laughs)

RM: Okay, I went a bit far. But I hate that term 'growing the game'. Do you ever hear that in other sports? In tennis? Football? 'Let's grow the game'. I mean, golf was here long before we were, and it's going to be here long after we're gone. So I don't get that, but I probably went a bit overboard.

PK: They were goading you.

RM: Yeah, but maybe I shouldn't have reacted in the way that I did. But Olympic golf to me doesn't mean that much - it really doesn't. I don't get excited about it. And people can disagree, and have a different opinion, and that's totally fine. Each to their own.

PK: There was a lot of blow-back for you afterwards. When you were asked about it after the opening round you said: "I've spent seven years trying to please everyone and I figured out that I really can't do that, so I may as well be true to myself."

RM: Yeah, I mean when it was announced (that golf was to be an Olympic sport) in 2009 or whatever, all of a sudden it put me in a position where I had to question who I am. Who am I? Where am I from? Where do my loyalties lie? Who am I going to play for? Who do I not want to piss off the most? I started to resent it. And I do. I resent the Olympic Games because of the position it put me in - that's my feeling towards it - and whether that's right or wrong, it's how I feel.

Ok, so we won't pencil you in for Tokyo 2020.

As for the tired "grow the game" phrase, it's wonderful to see a player single it out.

May I propose "sustain the game," which would allow McIlroy and others not look hypocritical when working to inspire kids to take up the game, something he clearly enjoys. Because we know the "grow" is merely a product of fear that the numbers have, gasp, flatlined.

On Tiger:

RM: I’m drawn to him, yeah. He’s an intriguing character because you could spend two hours in his company and see four different sides to him. When he’s comfortable and he trusts you — and his trust (sensitivity) is way (higher) than mine — he’s great. He’s thoughtful. He’s smart. He reads. He can’t sleep so that’s all he does — he reads stuff and educates himself on everything. But he struggles to sleep, which I think is an effect of overtraining, so I tell him to calm down sometimes. He’d be texting me at four o’clock in the morning: ‘Up lifting. What are you doing?’

PK: Really?

RM: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

He's never dull!

Rio Golf, Brinkmanship And The Future

To kick off Morning Drive's Design Week, we had to discuss the sad news out of Rio that not a thing has changed with the ownership, operational obstacles and overall state of affairs.

And I spoke with Gil Hanse to get the architect's side of things. Having seen just about everything imaginable there, he offered that he was bitterly disappointed but also said this for our Monday Golf World.

“We witnessed this type of brinksmanship during the construction of the course, and we are hopeful that this is another example of having to hit a low point before things get better.”

A friend emailed to say he debated the Rio golf course situation and came down on the side of letting it fail, with a quick return to the capybaras and many birds that have taken up residence. Given the poverty issues in Rio, the corruption of its government and the well-documented troubles of the past, I get that point of view.

In fact, I'd support walking away if the golf course and Brazillian Golf Federation had given things a shot and things just didn't pan out. But since we learned the course does not have signage, a website or any sign that an attempt is being made less than four months since golf made a magnificent return to the Olympic Games, it just doesn't feel right for the course to not have been given a chance to excite young players, test burgeoning ones or take the money of folks who want to test a brilliant design amidst a thriving natural environment.

Finchem Hints At World Cup Format As Possible Olympic Sport

If you've been busy with the holidays and unable to watch the ISPS Handa World Cup from Kingston Heath, you've missed out on some glorious golf architecture and pretty good golf. The stakes figure to get a lot more intersting Friday when the players go back to foursomes play. The event wraps up Saturday night at 5pm on Golf Channel as four-ball play decides the title.

Since the Zurich Classic received a very warm reception for its move to a two-man team format, the momentum seems to be headed toward team play in the Olympic Games.

Adam Pengilly of The Age reports on the first hopeful sign of progress, from that progressive Commissioner his ownself, Tim Finchem.

"The feedback is very positive [on team-based formats]," the PGA Tour's Commissioner said. "We're looking at the formats for 2020 and we like individual competition, but we'd also like to mix in a different competition or two and we're looking at different possibilities.

"We might end up saying, 'we'll keep it the way it is', we might recommend a couple of changes on certain days where we do a different type of competition. And it also affects scheduling so we're looking how that all works."

So we know individual competition is staying because this game of individualists is addicted to 72-holes of stroke play. (Even though until the last days, golf came off as a painful slog in the context of the higher, faster, stronger Games).

But we know two-person team match play would be superb. Two days, at least, are needed for that.

So if you factor in individual stroke play, we're up to at least six competition days. With the PGA Tour showing no interest in ceasing play for two weeks every four years, the pressure to keep things as tight as possible could actually be used to Olympic golf's advantage.

Because right now, by adding team competition of some kind, we're looking at 12 days of competition between men and women. That may be too much for officials, fans and volunteers.

There is a final key caveat as explained to me by IGF officials who will create and present any changes: the IOC does not want to see two medal competitions in one.

Translation: a team medal cannot be awarded from the stroke play competition.

So here is my final offer:

72-holes of stroke play from a field of 60. Three medals will be awarded just like we saw in 2016. If you want to shorten the competition days to ten overall between men and women, make the first day a 36-hole first and second round. (Rio could not handle that due to shorter winter days, whereas Tokyo, Paris and Los Angeles will all have plenty of daylight.)

From that competition, the low eight two-person teams (based on country with pairings pre-determined by world rankings), advance to a two-day match play event. They are broken up into Pools A and B based on seedings from the stroke play competition. (Countries that only send one player or an odd number of three will not be included, sorry.)

Day one of the two-person team match play is a 27-hole day, with three 9-hole foursomes matches played by each team within their pool. With nine-holes and foursomes, you may be looking at some very quick matches, addressing the speed issue that plagues the game.

The two top teams advance from those pools to an 18-hole gold medal match, with the runners-up playing an an 18-hole bronze medal match. How ties in the pools are decided, I'm not sure. But sudden death playoffs would be fun.

So to recap: five or six days of competition, with stroke play while team foursomes match play introduces a shorter, faster, high-pressure format. Both nine-hole rounds and alternate shot are put on an international stage for the world to see golf is not the slog it can sometimes be.

What do you think?

Riviera Becomes LA 2024's Olympic Golf Course

While it's a world class course unfortunately owned by not-very-world class people, Riviera gives the LA2024 bid committee a famous layout in the effort to bring the Olympics to southern California.

David Wharton reports for the LA Times.

Unfortunately, this means there will be no effort to resuscitate Griffith Park, the original bid committee plan. Given that the LA City courses are in such a terrible place--five of them have shuttered pro shops because no one wants to deal with the City of LA--the Olympics provided hope that 2024 might leave public golf here in a better place.

But the LA 2024 bid is emphasizing already-built facilities over legacy projects and Riviera fits that bill, even if it'll be surrounded by $20 million homes and down to a tiny membership with entry fees already approaching $300,000 (that's including required "donations" to the club's effort to fund the 2017 U.S. Amateur to procure better waiting list positioning).

None of this will fit the "grow the game" message we heard this year and which validated Rio's effort to build a public course.

es, it was a headache and tough, but wasn't it worth it to show the world that great golf can be played on a course anyone can play?  That won't be the case in 2020 or 2024, assuming LA gets the Games.

"Rio deserved a more balanced, less hysterical prologue, just as it deserves a more balanced, less triumphal epilogue."

Two respected journalists and Olympic Games veterans tied up the loose ends of Rio and suggest that the pre-Olympics coverage was badly overblown given Rio's winter time weather (and therefore, no mosquitos).

Alan Abrahamson was the longtime Olympics beat reporter for the LA Times and now has his own site, 3 Wire Sports, devoted to Olympics coverage.

He writes:

The developed world’s assessment and pre-Games judgment of developing Brazil smacked, in many instances, of smug privilege if not the very worst strands of colonialism and imperialism. Why expect Rio to be London or Vancouver?

Social media amplified the predictions of catastrophe. A threat on Reddit was dedicated to the “Apocalympics.”

Consider the Zika thing — which, among other consequences, purportedly led to the withdrawal of many top male golfers from golf’s debut at the Olympics.

The World Health Organization said last Thursday that no one appears to have caught Zika at the Games. That means, according to WHO, “spectators, athletes or anyone associated with the Olympics.”

To be even more direct — not one worker at the Rio golf grounds.

Yet the world’s top guy pros wouldn’t or couldn’t go?

Turns out, you had a better chance of dying from running into a swarm of angry capybaras who had just tasted the press room coffee.

(The on-course lack of a Zika issue was pointed out here first (June 29, 2016) that no members of the crew had been infected, yet, the world's top golfers who stayed away didn't get a link sent their way.)

Christopher Clarey of the New York Times, who has covered the Olympics since 1992, admits to falling for the pre-Games coverage and laments it.

Exhibit A was the four cans of mosquito repellent, bought in the United States, that were sitting unused on a table in my hotel room, a still life to fear.

This is not to imply that the Zika virus has not been a major issue in Rio or that water pollution in Guanabara Bay does not remain one. But it is to make clear that a lot of us in my business got it wrong when it came to the impact those issues would have on the Olympics themselves.

“All we do is read what’s in the headlines, and the headlines always scare you,” said Bubba Watson, one of the leading golfers who did elect to play in the Games when many opted out.

Rio deserved a more balanced, less hysterical prologue, just as it deserves a more balanced, less triumphal epilogue.

Tweaking The Olympic Golf Format: Golf Needs More Disciplines

Even if you have disdain for the Olympic golf concept or discussion of the Games at this point, the issue of what to do going forward in Tokyo 2020 is important for all to consider.

Why? Because the fallback excuse for golf not broadening its format horizons is consistently lame: 72 holes of stroke play is the most recognized format for deciding a champion. Therefore, we're stuck with it in the Olympics even though even the most casual fan can see it's not very Olympian.

Stroke play is only the most recognized because any effort to introduce new formats has been strangled, trampled and bemoaned by players, who are paid not for their creativity and vision, but to display their golf skills. Yet as the Ryder Cup reminds us every two years when played with formats that most modern players would have torpedoed in a policy board meeting, the event produces consistency entertaining spectacles.

Olympic golf offering more disciplines and team fun should be our immediate priority, while weaving in other formats beyond the Games should also become a focus of the IGF. Showing fans the many ways golf can be played beyond card-and-pencil stroke play will do more good than any grow-the-game initiative.

Doug Ferguson of the AP declared Olympic golf a success in this story, quotes Peter Dawson mentioning how the IOC doesn't want a "trial format," and then gets to a possible solution that gets team play into the 2020 games.

The Summer Youth Olympics nailed it in China two years ago, though the field size was 32 players instead of the 60 players for the men's and women's competition in Rio.

The boys and girls each played the first three days for a 54-hole individual medal. Then, they played mixed team the next three days — 18 holes of foursomes, 18 holes of fourballs, and two singles matches to reach a 72-hole score. Sweden won the gold in a playoff over South Korea, while Italy won a playoff for the bronze over Denmark.

One idea being kicked around is to stage a mixed-team event the last two days between the men's and women's competitions. That could be either fourballs and foursomes on the same (long) day, or a 54-hole event with foursomes one day, and two singles the next day. That way, every shot would count.

My colleague Jaime Diaz made a valid point: the men’s event was such a success, that this actually frees the IGF to propose a bolder format tweak to Olympic golf instead of merely trying to keep it in the Games as is.

My polling of IGF officials, players and Olympic veterans suggests the following parameters must be kept in mind:

—60 player fields will probably not change. Even though many golfers, as expected, stayed outside of the Olympic Village because they traveled with family and spouses, golf still most can’t exceed that number.

World Ranking points will likely remain for qualifying. But it sure would be fun to hear of a more creative way that introduces a "play-in" element that serves as a great way to create excitement going into the games. If team play is introduced, shouldn't players be able to pick their partners ala beach volleyball?

—Individual stroke play will remain, and it'll be 72 holes.
A 36-hole final day could be interesting, but with five hour rounds that would be a long day for players, volunteers and the course maintenance crew.

--The IOC doesn't like competitions within competitions. Therefore three days of stroke play that determines a two-person team medal, followed by a one-day stroke play event, does not work for them. Unless its gymnastics.

—The Olympic format should be recognized in some international event of significance
. Pointing to the Ryder Cup for Four-ball and Foursomes play makes our task easier. The WGC Match Play has added pool play, so that’s covered too. However, proposing rounds of less than 18 holes become an issue in this scenario.

—Mixed Events Are Big With The IOC.
I haven’t thought of a way that a mixed doubles event works outside of the one outlined above by Ferguson, but the mixed team concept appeals to many. Though it would appeal more if players could select their partners and qualify (think Martin and Gerina Piller!). Golf would need to have a mixed event added to the PGA Tour, LPGA and European Tour schedules, something that is long overdue anyway.

—One week is enough for each gender. Keeping the golfers at the Games for all two weeks would be excessive. As would too many 36-hole days. Let them go enjoy the Olympic spirit. As we saw with Rickie, Bubba and the other golfers last week, having our game’s stars interacting with the other athletes not only gave a great impression, it positively changed their perspectives.

As I discussed with
Gary Williams on Monday's Morning Drive, we have to get a two person team competition. Based on the feedback of those in Rio and in watching, I'd like to see one of two ideas considered (neither incorporates the mixed element).

--72 holes of stroke play, with the three low two-person teams awarded medals after 54 holes for best aggregate scores. Yes, some countries only send one player, but enough send two (or four) that world rankings could determine teams. Not a perfect concept and it's not introducing match play, but it's a competition that would spice up the first three days significantly.

--72 holes of stroke play, followed by two days of team match play. Award medals for individual performance and use the medal play days to whittle the match play down to the best 8 teams from the first four days. This gives players something to play for if they are out of the individual medal race. From the 8 teams qualifying,  play a four-ball or foursomes match play event over two days to determine three more medals.

Zach Johnson Is Irritated By The Olympics Putting A "Kink" In Golf's Major Championship Schedule

I give Rory McIlroy a bit of a pass on his only-watching-Olympic-sports-that-matter jab because (A) he at least supported Olympic golf at one time, and (B) may have been annoyed by Peter Dawson's comments the day prior. But now Rory can send Zach Johnson a big thank you note!

Why would the veteran Johnson unwisely go down the "matter" path that so scarred McIlroy and caused the lad unnecessary grief? Especially after two sensational weeks where the golfers who went to Rio reported emotions ranging from life-changing to mentioning new perspectives on their sport?

Anyway, let's let Zach dig this hole with the NY Post's Mark Cannizzaro, taking copious notes and also sharing positive views about Olympic golf from many others.

“Oh, I didn’t watch golf,’’ Johnson said. “I’d rather watch the sports that should be in the Olympics. I’d rather watch the athletes who train for four years for that one week. I’d rather watch swimming and diving, track and field — the athletes that are relevant for one week. All of our [golf] athletes are relevant 24-7, 365. I just don’t see the need for golf to be in the Olympics. Same thing with basketball. It’s relevant all the time. LeBron James, Kevin Durant? They’re relevant all the time.’’

"All of our [golf] athletes are revelant 24-7" eh?

Speaking of relevance, I'm fairly certain that Zach could have walked through the Olympic Village with his caddie wearing a name-labeled bib, the Claret Jug in hand, all while singing the Star Spangled Banner, and still would have been guessed by most as a masseuse for the USA sailing team. But go on...

Johnson said he’d rather see amateur golfers play in the Olympics if golf continues to be an Olympic sport.

“Make it a team format and give amateurs and college players, who don’t have the relevancy [pros do] a chance,” he said. “That would have been more interesting. For those guys who played, any time you can represent your country, it’s a pretty awesome endeavor. But we have so much international golf as it is. And the fact that it put a kink in our schedule this year irritates me. To mess with the four tournaments that matter most [the majors] because you’re at the Olympics, I’ve got a strong, strong disdain for that.’’

Those pesky Olympics putting kinks in schedules with their millions and millions of viewers messing with the relevancy of golf's majors.

Johnson comments speak to a level of distance from the situation that sadly reinforces the pre-Games view of grossly-out-of-touch and spoiled PGA Tour players. Perhaps he'll address his views in more depth during his pre-tournament press conference. Wait, those are for relevant golfers only, sorry.

Roundup: You Can Really Feel The Love For Olympic Golf

So moving to see so many coming around after months of moaning about golf in the Olympics.

As we get ready to not talk about it much until next fall when votes take place (and we are overcome with ResetCup fever!), I offer you an assortment of the glowing takes on the last two weeks in Rio.

Jaime Diaz in this week's Golf World:

In essence, Olympic golf has become the closest thing to the Ryder Cup: Worth it to play for free. A place—especially if it becomes, as expected, more of a team event—to deepen friendships. Something worth sacrificing for and not to be missed. Amid the distortions that come with professionalism, commercialism and politics, on the field at least, a chance for pure golf amid what aspires to be pure sport.

Linda Baker of Reuters in a piece that'll get picked up in plenty of places, declares golf a success and pushes the format-tweak narrative.

"I would like to see a two-man team. I think you should still have an individual medal, but I would like to see a team format to make things more exciting," said the United States' Stacy Lewis, who ended the women's tournament tied for fourth.

The golf industry pushed for the sport's inclusion to help boost participation, which has been slipping. Organizers were hoping that the newly built golf course designed by Gil Hanse could also help boost the game in Brazil.

For Gary Player, the legendary golfer who has been a vocal proponent of golf in the Olympics, the tournament had succeeded in cementing golf's status as an international sport. He tweeted at the conclusion of the Olympics, "Fantastic for six #golf medals going to six nations - Britain, Sweden, USA, South Korea, New Zealand & China... #growth."

I don't know about the growth part, but having a medalist from six countries is another one of those you-can't-script-it sidebars to the Rio golf experiment.

Bob Harig at ESPN.com on a post-Games narrative of athletes who contended or medaled: lots of new friends or old friends coming out of the woodwork.

"The reception globally has been astonishing,'' said Mark Steinberg, who is Rose's agent. "The reception he is receiving locally within the UK, it's astonishing to even Justin who is wearing a gold medal around his neck. He just can't believe the amount of people who are reaching out to him that maybe don't sit and watch golf on a Saturday and Sunday.

"Maybe you attribute that to the Olympic rings. Anything you want to attribute it to. It's been an astonishing appeal. It's just so great for these guys to get that type of response.''

Steinberg also represents Kuchar, and his phone has been ringing with potential endorsement possibilities for both medal winners. He also had three other players in the men's tournament.

Speaking of Kuchar, who didn't even know the format a week prior to the Games, he received a hero's welcome and is taking his bronze everywhere, writes Tim Rosaforte.

Kuchar kept it together on the Olympic Golf Course and flew home on Aug. 15 to a hero’s welcome. There were more than 100 people greeting his plane when it landed at Malcolm McKinnon Airport on St. Simons Island in Georgia. Chants of “Kooch!” and “USA, USA!” rang into the night when the Olympian appeared at the door of the plane, wearing his bronze medal.

If only Big Kooch had been around to see it, as he was when Matt won the Players Championship in 2012 and the WGC-Match Play and the Memorial in 2013. Or if he could see his great-grandsons, Cameron and Carson, show off his dad’s medal last week on St. Simons Island, whether it was going table to table at the local Starbucks or the grillroom at Frederica Golf Club.

“They got a big kick out of doing that,” Kuchar said. “They love checking it out, showing it off. I’ve pretty much kept it with me wherever I’ve gone. Most people want to see it and hold it.”

The Golf.com gang hailed all things Olympic golf, with a couple of strong points, including this from Josh Sens:

Personally, what I enjoyed most was seeing the women get an equal share of the spotlight as the men, playing on the same venue, with the same stakes. It was another reminder of how much fun the best women players are to watch. And unlike the men, pretty much all of the very best were actually there.

And this from Alan Shipnuck:

That we didn't miss any of the players who weren't there but, based on the longing in their texts and tweets, they know they missed out on something special.

Michael Bamberger wrote about the women's game getting a profile raise, even if weather wiped out chances of an even larger audience on network coverage.

I couldn't tell you what the man's level of interest in women's golf was before the Olympics. Whatever it was, now it's deeper.

Teddy Greenstein reviewed his Rio stay and highlighted the various sports covered for the Chicago Tribune, including this from golf's fourth place finisher:

Of all the wisdom dispensed over the last 17 days, my favorite came from a fellow Olympic newbie: Thomas Pieters, a Belgium golfer who played at Illinois.

Pieters described radios going off and cameras clicking during his backswing but shrugged off all the distractions, saying: "You deal with it. It's the Olympics. It's special."

Steve DiMeglio interviewed the IGF's Ty Votaw, instrumental figure in the entire Olympic golf pursuit and execution, who continues to credit players and caddies for their effort. But the crowds, which could have been disastrously small in Rio given attendance at some venues, brought an intangible element to both final rounds that should not be discounted.

Q: What stood out in Rio?

A: “The reception of the crowds for both the men’s and the women’s competitions. And the way the men and women embraced the Olympic experience. It was phenomenal to see their interaction with other athletes, their experiences in the Olympic Village, and how they responded to the crowds and the crowds responded to them, in a country that doesn’t have a lot of golf history.”

What also stood out? The ticket price was kept absurdly low, something golf tournaments looking for energy should keep in mind more often.

Iain Payten of the Daily Telegraph covers all things Rio with Australian team leader Ian Baker-Finch, whose most famous golfers (Day, Scott, Leishman) passed on Rio. He would would like to see a format tweak either way based on his three weeks in Rio.

Changing the format will help too, believes Baker-Finch. Instead of individual strokeplay, an element of a teams format will be attractive to athletes who play for themselves every week.

“I hoped all the way through the process that they’d go to the World Cup format of a singles and a doubles,” he said.

“I think you’d have had a stronger representation in the mens had theire been a two - man team. So still 72 holes but let’s have a singles and have a team, let’s add up the two scores.”

Payten's piece also includes this:

US RATINGS FOR GOLF MAJORS v OLYMPICS
Masters final round – 12.4 million
Olympic final round – 8.8 million
US Open final round – 5.4 million
PGA Championship final round – 5.3 million
British Open final round – 4.9 million

Women's Olympic Ratings Wrap: Nice Final Day

In spite of a forecast-driven tee time change that killed chances for a lengthy NBC look-in, viewers tuned in to Golf Channel for the medal day of women's Olympic golf. Hopefully some international numbers will trickle in at some point like they did with the men.

For Immediate Release...

Golf’s Return to the Olympics Posts Record Viewership for Women’s Golf
 
Golf Channel schedule for the Olympics featured the most live coverage ever for a women’s golf event (34.5 hours), which was bolstered all week with an additional 35.5 hours of live news coverage with Golf Central’s Live From The Olympics and Morning Drive. In total, Golf Channel dedicated 124 hours of programming to this week’s women’s golf competition and as a result, generated record-breaking viewership. Wrap-up of Men’s Final Round is below.
 
Saturday, August 20: Final Round

Golf Channel’s coverage of the conclusion of the Olympics’ women’s final round is the highest-rated and most-watched in more than six years for peak 90-minutes of coverage from any women’s stroke-play event on cable in any daypart, including primetime (11:15 am-12:45 pm ET; 0.54 US HH rating, 803,000 average viewers), dating back to the 2010 Women’s British Open on ESPN (8/1/2010; peak 90 minutes, .59 US HH rating, 824,000 average viewers).

Coverage peaked with 924,000 average viewers (12:15-12:30 pm ET), the most-watched peak finish for any women’s golf event on cable in more than six years since the 2010 Women’s British Open on ESPN (8/1/2010; peak finish, 1.275 million average viewers)

Despite leaders teeing off earlier than plan on the account of potential bad weather, average viewership for the final round (691,000 average viewers) was +77% vs. Friday’s comparable 3rd round coverage (390,000 average viewers)
 
Friday, August 19: Round 3

Golf Channel’s afternoon coverage of the third round is the most-watched third round in more than five years for any women’s stroke-play golf event on cable in any daypart, including primetime (Noon-3:36 pm ET; 0.28 US HH rating, 390,000 average viewers), dating back to the third round of the 2011 Women’s British Open on ESPN (7/30/11; 476,000).

Golf Channel’s Friday afternoon coverage of the third round was up 212% among average viewers and up 180% for U.S. household rating vs. the same Friday in 2012 opposite the London Games.
 
Thursday, August 18: Round 2

Golf Channel’s second-round coverage is the highest-rated live weekday round of any women’s golf event (at the time, now second behind Olympics Round 3) in more than two years in any daypart, including primetime (Noon-3:14 pm ET; 0.23 US HH rating, 316,000 average viewers), dating back to the second round of the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst (6/20/14; 0.44 U.S. HH rating on ESPN2).
 
Wednesday, August 17: Round 1

Golf Channel’s coverage tied as the highest-rated round one of any women’s golf event in 2016 (Noon-3:54 pm ET; 0.17 US HH rating, 217,000 average viewers), matching the rating for coverage of the ANA Inspiration Major Championship, which aired in primetime (3/31/16, 7:12-9:12 pm ET).

In general ratings news, New York's Eric Levit considers the fall in overall Olympic viewership numbers by the most important generation to have ever live, and wisely notes that even they get it wrong sometimes.

Women's Olympic Golf Set Up For Grand (And Starting Earlier For Weather) Saturday Conclusion

After years of wondering about possible medal scenarios, we're set up for a fun finish to the women's Olympic golf, assuming the thunderstorms hold off and a few more fans show up. Friday's high winds produced some stellar golf and separated the leaderboard.

Steve DiMeglio sets up the concluding day, where Inbee Park looks to add to her Hall of Fame career with a gold medal, and who knows, possibly her last significant appearance on a grand stage. American Gerina Piller, still searching for her first pro win, played what she called a possible career round to get herself in the final group and in medal contention.

Park will also be pursued by Lydia Ko, vaulted herself into the medal race on the back of an 8th hole ace, her first ace ever in competition. Rex Hoggard on Ko's hopes to medal and face off with Inbee Park.

Here is the video.

China's Xiyu Lin previously made the first hole-in-one in women's golf history on Friday at the same hole, which, I can say having seen it in person, is no easy hole location to get to.

Bob Harig explains what happened to first round leader Ariya Jutanugarn, who was +12 thru 13 Friday before WD'ing with an injury.

Aditi Ashok was hanging in nicely through 10 but the winds and a tough stretch of holes took the Cinderella story out of contention. However, India's 18-year-old representative has nothing to be ashamed of.

Marianne Skarpnord found herself in a DJ-oscillate situation and it was all caught on camera along with the conversation with an official, all picked up thanks to an aggressive audio technician. Hoggard explains what happened and why the ruling went the way it did.

An unbylined IGF story ID's all of the family members caddying in the women's competition, and it's a long list.

Speaking of caddies, Mike Clayton is on the bag for Australia's Su Oh, who posted a 66 and moved to within five strokes of the bronze position. An unbylined Australian Olympic Committee story includes quotes from Oh mentioning her golf architect looper.

Here's the Golf Channel lowdown on Saturday's tee times, which were moved up due to an ominous afternoon weather forecast. :

-Live final round coverage of the Women’s Olympic Golf competition gets underway at 6 a.m. ET on Saturday morning on Golf Channel, immediately following Golf Central Live From the Olympics, airing from 5-6 a.m. ET.
 
-In order to avoid potential inclement weather in the afternoon, groups will be going off split tees on Saturday (No. 1 and 10), with the leaders beginning their final round at 7:39 am ET. Barring any playoffs, the expectation is for golf to conclude around 1 p.m. ET, with the medal ceremony immediately following.

Here is the latest on ratings:

Golf Channel’s second-round coverage is the highest-rated live weekday round of any women’s golf event in more than two years across all dayparts including primetime (Noon-3:14 pm ET; 0.23 US HH rating, 316,000 average viewers), dating back to the second round of the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst (6/20/14; 0.44 U.S. HH rating on ESPN2). Additionally, the Olympics round two is the most-watched Thursday of women’s golf coverage since round one of the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open on ESPN2 (6/19/14; 437,000 average viewers).