Despite winning court case, Dutch golfer Joost Luiten denied place in Olympics field


Joost Luiten won a court case in his native Netherlands to put himself on the Olympic golf team. But there was just one problem: His place in the 60-player field for the Paris Games was given away.

The International Olympic Committee denied a request by the International Golf Federation to expand the field to 61 on Tuesday, meaning Luiten is once again on the outside looking in at Paris. The 38-year-old first qualified for the Games in June by finishing 40th in the IGF’s men’s Olympic golf ranking, but the Dutch Olympic Committee*Dutch Sports Federation (NOC*NSF) elected not to send him because he did not meet its own criteria.

After Luiten took his case to court, a Dutch judge ruled on July 2 that the NOC*NSF had to enter Luiten into the Olympic field by 5 p.m. local time that day, the deadline for Olympic entrants.

But his spot had already been reallocated by the IGF to Finland’s Tapio Pulkkanen.

“In an effort to support Luiten, the IGF sought an exception from the IOC to increase the field size of the men’s Olympic golf competition from 60 to 61 competitors to include Luiten, however, the request was denied by the IOC today,” the IGF said in a statement.

The IGF informed Luiten of the IOC’s decision, but he has not said whether he intends to pursue further recourse.

Luiten, who ranks 159th in the Official World Golf Ranking, was one of four Dutch golfers — alongside Darius van Driel, Anne van Dam and Dewi Weber — who earned a spot in Paris after meeting the IOC’s requirements. The top 15 golfers in the world were eligible for the Olympics, with a limit of four players per country. After that, spots were allocated based on the OWGR with a maximum of two players per country that did not already have two-plus golfers among the top 15. By those standards, Luiten ranked 40th in the Olympic golf ranking.

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Dutch golfer wins court case to represent Netherlands at Olympics

But the NOC*NSF said Luiten, van Driel and Weber did not have a reasonable chance to place in the top eight at the Olympics and had therefore decided not to allow them to compete. The Dutch committee required its men’s golfers to place in the top 27 of the IGF’s rankings and women’s golfers to be ranked in the top 24. Competitors — like van Dam — could also qualify if they finished in the top eight in at least one strong field.

“They basically said, ‘No we’re not sending you, we don’t think you’re good enough,’” Luiten told The Athletic last week. “That’s basically all I got back from them.”

The men’s golf field in Paris features many of the top golfers in the world, including Scottie Scheffler (No. 1), Rory McIlroy (No. 2), Xander Schauffele (No. 3), Ludvig Åberg (No. 4) and Wyndham Clark (No. 5). But the tournament at the Tokyo Games in 2021 ended with a pair of long shots — Slovakia’s Rory Sabbatini (No. 161 in world) and Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan (No. 181) winning the silver and bronze medals, respectively.

Luiten was hopeful last week that he could do something similar.

“Golf is a strange game. Anybody can win. If I have a good week and a little bit of luck … you can go home with a gold medal,” he said. “That’s how crazy this game is.”

The men’s golf tournament is set to take place July 1-4 at Le Golf National in Guyancourt, France.

(Photo: Octavio Passos / Getty Images)



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