Perception so often distorts reality, which isn’t fair at all to the guys who put on a fine show in Rio on Sunday, where a showdown between Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson resulted in a gold medal for Rose, silver for Stenson and a bronze for Matt Kuchar who made a sensational final round run to get to the podium.
To be fair, that was all acknowledged in the media, but what couldn’t be forgotten, at least in many quarters, is the same, old discussion that went on before the Olympics began, that being those who weren’t there instead of those who put on the show.
Apparently, some in the media believe those absentees are regretting their decisions not to come to Rio without even asking them, but we’ll see what comes out in the wash on that subject in the coming weeks.
What counts is not only the spectacular conclusion to the men’s competition, but also the television ratings.
According to early reports, a 90-minute window in which NBC and the Golf Channel simulcast the event drew a combined 5.6 household rating and 8.8-million average viewers, second only to the final round of the Masters in golf this year and enough to overshadow any lingering resentment of the no-shows.
That should at least offer hope that golf has a future beyond 2020 in Tokyo, where a more golf-savvy crowd is likely to see a field filled by a greater number of marquee names, if for no other reason than fewer safety, security and health concerns.
After all, the FedEx Cup playoffs had quite a few no-shows with marquee names in its early years, but it’s found its place in the back end of a busy PGA Tour schedule that was also an issue in the first go-round in 112 years at the Olympics.
The perception was that the men’s event wouldn’t be quite what it could have been without the guys who dropped out, but the reality is that everyone I’ve talked to about it point their thumbs skyward at the finished product, despite the lingering complaints.
There hasn’t been and won’t be any such whining for the second phase of Olympic golf in Rio as top female players saw the value in coming to Rio, despite the fact that it was them more than anyone who could be negatively be impacted by the Zika virus.
Golf did itself proud in men’s play and the reality is that should be magnified over the next few days, with no bitter aftertaste that will carry on until golf’s Olympic future is decided beyond 2020. If all indications are correct, Olympic golf will conclude on a positive note this week.
The women are loving the spotlight and the opportunity to showcase their entertaining but under-rated brand, which rarely gets as much attention as the men, even at major time. Their exuberance to get that message out with the world watching makes it a winner before it even starts.
“I loved watching the Winter and Summer Games,” said Brooke Henderson.
“I loved watching the athletes compete and, just knowing how much hard work they put into it and the passion they had for what they were doing and their sport,” she said.
“It’s really amazing and now, to be an Olympian, be one of those athletes and then look around me and see how hard and how much all of this means to all of them is really a neat experience,” said Henderson.
World No. 1 Lydia Ko says she was enjoying the Olympics, even before her competition got underway.
““I got to go to the Village and meet a couple of the athletes and eat at the food area. They said it’s the second biggest tent in the world, so I would love to see what the biggest tent in the world is like,” said Ko.
“Just to be in the team vibe, wear the uniform, go out and watch the guys play, it’s been really great so far and it’s only going to go up in the next few days,” she added.
That’s the attitude going into Wednesday’s opening round, when Henderson tees off at 9:14 a.m. local time and her Canadian teammate Alena Sharp starts at 10:25 a.m. The perception is positive and it should be as the women get underway.
Reality won’t change anything by the time the medals are handed out.
It’s supposed to be sunny and hit 30 C during Wednesday’s opening round in Rio and a mix of sun and clouds is expected on Thursday with a high of 25 C.
There is a chance of showers on both Friday and Saturday, with highs of 26 and 27. Winds throughout the four days are expected to be between 15 and 20 km/h and blow in different directions.