Last time Olympic golf was played, a Canadian won gold. So can Canada defend, and who are the two men enlisted with trying to do so…
George Lyon, who would go on to finish runner-up in the 1906 US Amateur Championship, outclassed a field comprising mainly Americans to triumph in St Louis, and then even travelled to London to defend his title in 1908 before the golf event was cancelled at the last minute.
As golf returns to the Olympics in 2016, the two male Canadians who have the opportunity to successfully defend their nation’s Olympic golfing honour 112 years down the line are Graham DeLaet and David Hearn. So what are their chances of doing just that on the purpose-built Reserva de Marapendi course?
Graham DeLaet – World Ranking 145th
Graham DeLaet is a 34-year-old (with a big beard for a long time!) whose rookie PGA Tour season came in 2010 when he earned just shy of $1 million. Prior to that he had won three times on the Canadian Tour and once on the Sunshine Tour.
He is yet to win in America, but has finished runner-up three times in 2013 and 2014, his best two seasons in which he finished 8th and then 37th in the FedEx Cup.
In terms of golf on the big stage, he has played in seven Majors so far, making the cut twice in The Open and once in The PGA, with a best finish of T15th in the 2014 PGA. DeLaet did make the 2013 Presidents Cup team, turning in a solid 3-1-1 performance for captain Nick Price.
This year has been steady if unspectacular, though he has had top tens in Hawaii, Puerto Rico and at the recent Barbasol Championship. However, on his most recent outing, he missed the cut by some margin in his home RBC Canadian Open.
David Hearn – World Ranking 139th
David Hearn is a 37-year-old who played his first full season on the PGA Tour in 2005 before slipping back onto the Web.com Tour until regaining his playing rights for 2011. Since then he has comfortably retained his full card with a career best of 56th on the FedEx standings in 2013.
Like DeLaet, he is yet to win on the PGA Tour, with his best efforts runner-up finishes in the 2013 John Deere Classic and the 2015 Greenbrier Classic, both of which he lost in play-offs. He has won once on the Web.com Tour and once on the Canadian Tour.
Last year, he entered the final round of the RBC Canadian Open with a two-stroke lead attempting to become the first Canadian victor for 61 years, but was overhauled by Jason Day and Bubba Watson.
Like DeLaet, he has made the cut in three Majors, with a best finish of T21st in the 2013 US Open. Again, like DeLaet, 2016 has been steady rather than spectacular with just one top ten in the RSM classic. However, he had enjoyed a solid run from The Players, until missing the cut in his home Open in late July.
So can Canada defend? From the above it may seem unlikely in such a strong field from two men still awaiting their first victories on golf’s big stage… but certainly not impossible.