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Dutch Olympic officials will deny golfers from men's competition in Paris

Dutch Olympic officials are keeping home two male and one female players from the golf competition in Paris because they believe their world ranking is too low for them to have a realistic chance against 60-player fields.

The Netherlands Golf Federation said Tuesday it presented “extensive arguments and data” in a June 14 meeting with the Dutch committee that oversees the Olympics, hopeful of showing unique differences in golf compared with other sports.

“According to them, it has not been demonstrated that there is a reasonable chance of a top-eight ranking during the Olympic Games,” the NGF said in a statement.

The decision means Joost Luiten and Darius Van Driel will not be going to Paris. It's the second straight Olympics that Dutch officials have kept golfers home for not being ranked among the top 100 in the world.

Most telling about the Dutch decision is what happened at the Tokyo Olympics. Rory Sabbatini qualified at No. 161 in the world and shot 61 in the final round to win the silver medal in a historic day for Slovakian golf.

C.T. Pan of Taiwan won a seven-man playoff — which included Rory McIlroy and Collin Morikawa — to win the bronze. Pan qualified at No. 181 in the world.

Olympic qualifying is based on the Official World Golf Ranking. Countries are allowed two players — four if all are among the top 15 — until the 60-player field is filled.

For the Tokyo Games, the Netherlands had set a standard of players being among the top 100 in the world or the top 36 in the Olympic ranking for them to compete. Luiten was No. 177 and Wil Besseling was No. 221 when qualifying ended.

This year, Luiten was No. 40 in the Olympic ranking, with a world ranking of No. 147.

Anne Van Dam, who is No. 108 in the women's world ranking and No. 34 in the Olympic ranking, will be the only Dutch golfer. The Netherlands Olympic Committee will not be sending Dewi Weber, who is No. 302 in the world.

The 38-year-old Luiten is a six-time winner on the European tour who has qualified for 21 majors — including the Masters twice — and last year tied for 71st in the British Open.

The absence of Dutch golfers mean the male players will be replaced by Joel Girrbach of Switzerland (No. 366 in the world) and Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland (No. 378) from the reallocation reserve list.

Besseling, in an interview two summers ago at the U.S. Open where he tied for 56th at The Country Club, had hoped Dutch officials would change the criteria. He said it was a “stupid rule to make.”

The International Golf Federation sent a detailed letter in support of the Dutch golfers for the June 14 meeting, trying to explain that margins are so thin in golf that players well outside the top 100 can win on any given week.

“It is common for lower-ranked players to make a significant impact in major tournaments, defying their current standings,” the IGF letter said. “There are numerous examples of players who are lower ranked on OWGR who perform well in big events.”

Seven players ranked outside the top 100 in the world have won PGA Tour events that offered full FedEx Cup points this year. That list includes Nick Dunlap, who was an amateur still in college when he won The American Express against a field that included Scottie Scheffler.

The Dutch committee — formally the Netherlands Olympic Committee/Netherlands Sports Federation — tweaked its criteria for sending golfers to the 2024 Olympics.

For men, anyone finishing outside the top 27 in the Olympic ranking would have to record a top-eight finish in a tournament — provided that tournament had five players from the top 50 in the world or 10 from the top 100. Anything less would require a top-four finish.

The European tour, where Luiten and Van Driel plays, rarely gets that many from the top 100 in a world ranking that has been more heavily skewed toward the PGA Tour in the last year.

Luiten has five top-20 finishes this year, including a tie for 14th in the Dubai Invitational, where Tommy Fleetwood defeated McIlroy by one shot.

Van Driel won the Magical Kenya Open in February for his first European tour win. That tournament had only two players from the top 100.

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AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press