Analysis: Bryson DeChambeau had his chances to make the Olympics

Bryson DeChambeau is a U.S. Open champion, and for now that will have to do.

He is among the great entertainers in golf, with a YouTube channel approaching 800,000 subscribers. He certainly is among the best players over the last three months. Just look at his record in the majors — a tie for sixth in the Masters, runner-up by one birdie putt in the PGA Championship, conqueror of the toughest test in golf to win the U.S. Open.

His swing speed is faster. His world ranking is climbing higher. His appeal is stronger.

That's as close as DeChambeau gets to being part of the Olympics.

The four Americans heading to the Paris Games are Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, PGA champion Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa and past U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark.

DeChambeau, who started the year at No. 155 in the world ranking and reached No. 10 while playing in only three tournaments, is the second alternate.

“It's disappointing, but I understand the decisions I made,” DeChambeau said.

That decision was to take Saudi riches two years ago to join LIV Golf, a league that has teams and shotgun starts for 54 holes against (mostly) the same 54 players all season. It offers DeChambeau a chance to take his talents around the world, and it affords him time to create content making him as popular as ever.

The Olympics always was going to be a long shot. LIV Golf doesn't offer world ranking points and DeChambeau knew that when he signed up. He was competing against Americans who had a steady diet of big events with big points.

Is there an injustice? Not really.

DeChambeau missing out on the Olympics (again) has nothing to do with the Official World Golf Ranking choosing not to recognize what amounts to a closed shop at LIV Golf. The problem is golf is a sport where the OWGR is the most logical way to determine who plays.

The International Golf Federation — the worldwide governing body for golf — chose to use the world ranking to set the 60-man field when golf returned to the Olympics in 2016.

“It was the best way to determine the top players and balance the strength of field with diversity,” said Antony Scanlon, the IGF executive with a strong background in the Olympics.

The Olympics is not the strongest field because of that diversity, which is bringing players from 32 countries — Switzerland and Malaysia, included — to Le Golf National in early August.

But it's the Olympics. And someone is always going to get left out.

It makes little sense to fill the field based on a tour because each tour has players from all over the world, and the best of the lot are on the PGA Tour. It's been that way for 20 years. LIV has bought its share of big-time players, but how to measure them when it's (mostly) the same 54 was one of the key reasons the OWGR board chose not to give them points.

At the heart of the OWGR decision was measuring them against two dozen other tours that operate nothing like LIV.

Players knew when they signed up for LIV that it would be a tough road. That's why it's worth celebrating David Puig of Spain, who joined LIV out of Arizona State and played the Asian Tour whenever he could to accumulate points.

Joaquin Niemann of Chile did the same, which not only earned him an invitation to the Masters, he did well enough to secure his spot in the Olympics again. Carlos Ortiz won in Oman on the Asian Tour, which helped his cause.

“I’ve done my best up until now to give myself a chance according to the OWGR, but I realize and respect where the current situation of the game is, albeit it’s frustrating and disappointing,” DeChambeau said. “Hopefully 2028 will be a little different situation, and it will make it that much sweeter.”

He played well in the majors. But his best chance? DeChambeau, who missed three straight cuts before joining LIV in June 2022, has played only one tournament outside LIV and the majors over the last two years. Maybe he could have helped his chances by playing an Asian Tour or in Australia. Maybe that's not what he wanted to do, which is fine.

His record in the majors is second to none. On LIV Golf this year, he is 12th in the standings.

Clark has only one top 10 (and two missed cuts) in his last five starts. But golf is measured over time, and he won the Wells Fargo Championship last year and then the U.S. Open, and he shot 60 to win the rain-shortened AT&T Pebble Beach.

Morikawa played in the final group of two majors and has risen from No. 20 to No. 7 in the world since the Masters. Scheffler's and Schauffele's records need no explanation. They earned their spots in Paris.

DeChambeau almost did, and he said all the right things when asked if he should be going to the Olympics. Perhaps it will be different for 2028, suggesting slightly better (or more) results, or even a more equitable OWGR situation with LIV.

“There's another one four years later,” he said.

Then again, DeChambeau knows not to count on that. He was part of the U.S. squad for the Tokyo Games until he tested positive for COVID-19 and never made it to Japan.

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