Going for the Gold?

Denver native Wyndham Clark, former CU golfer Yannik Paul currently on track for Olympic golf berths, but much could change in 3 months before field finalized

By Gary Baines – 3/25/2024

When golf fans think about the sport’s most prestigious competitions, the major championships come to mind for many, the Ryder Cup or Solheim Cup for others. 

The Olympics may not initially hit home for a lot of golf aficionados, but the unique prestige of the Games in general likely puts them into a lofty category of their own.

This being an Olympic year — with golf set to be in the Games for just the third time since 1904 — the subject is returning to the spotlight. In Paris, the men’s tournament is scheduled for Aug. 1-4 and the women’s for Aug. 7-10. Sixty males and 60 females will compete in the Games.

Though there’s still almost three months until the fields are determined — June 17 for the men and June 24 for the women — two players with strong Colorado connections would tee it up in Paris if things were finalized on Monday (March 25). Denver native Wyndham Clark — winner of three PGA Tour events, including the U.S. Open, over the last year — would make the U.S. team, while former University of Colorado standout Yannik Paul would compete for the Germans.

Valor Christian alum Wyndham Clark currently sits No. 2 among the Americans in the Olympic qualifying rankings.

Asked In January about the prospects of playing in the Olympics, Clark told, “I want to represent my country, whether that’s for the President’s Cup or that’s for the Olympics. I always want to play on Team USA. Getting that experience at the Ryder Cup (in 2023) was amazing. I want to play in those events every year if I can.

“But I’m not going to really think about it that much. I’m going to focus on my golf and things that help me play my best. If I end up playing great golf, I’ll be on the team. If not, I’ll be watching. I definitely want to be part of it, but I’m not going to be too concerned about it until maybe the last month or so before.”

The Olympic golf rankings are based on the official world golf rankings on both the men’s and women’s sides. The top 15 golfers in the world rankings for each gender — with a maximum of four athletes for each country — will earn Olympic spots. Other nations will be limited to one or two golfers each per gender — again based on world rankings.

As of Monday, four American men were ranked in the top 7 in the world — Scottie Scheffler (1), Clark (4), defending Olympic gold medalist Xander Schauffele (5) and Patrick Cantlay (7). Brian Harman (8) and Max Homa (10) are also in the top 10, but wouldn’t qualify for the Olympics based on the current standings.

“If you look at our team, the world rankings is a bit of a free-for-all right now for the American side,” Schauffele recently told SNTV.

Clark, a graduate of Valor Christian who played out of Cherry Hills County Club when he grew up, has racked up a remarkable record over the last year. In addition to his three victories — the U.S. Open and the Wells Fargo Championship in 2023 and the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2024 — Clark has recorded two runner-ups (both this month) and a third place on the PGA Tour in the last year.

Former CU golfer Yannik Paul (above) is slightly ahead of Matti Schmid in the race for the second spot on the German men’s Olympic team.

As for Paul, he’s won once on the DP World Tour — in 2022 — and is currently ranked No. 121 in the world, down from a career best of 94th last November. But the former Buff is in a tight race for the second — and final — spot on the German men’s Olympic team as countryman Matti Schmid is just two spots behind him in the world rankings. Stephan Jaeger is the top-ranked German male, at No. 71.

In the last two years on the former European Tour, Paul has recorded 14 top-10 finishes, including his victory at the 2022 Mallorca Golf Open and three second-place showings.

As for women’s golf at the Olympics, no players with significant Colorado ties currently are very close to earning an Olympic berth. Colorado native Jennifer Kupcho, a three-time winner on the LPGA Tour in 2022, has dropped to No. 63 in Rolex women’s world rankings — from a personal high of No. 9. And four Americans are currently in the top 15, including Nelly Korda at No. 1 and Lilia Vu at No. 2.

About the Writer: Gary Baines has covered golf in Colorado continuously since 1983. He was a sports writer at the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, then the sports editor there, and has written regularly for since 2009. The University of Colorado Evans Scholar alum was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2022. He owns and operates