The John Deere Classic might well decide which 60 men get into the 2016 Olympic golf tournament.
International Golf Federation vice-president and PGA Tour executive Ty Votaw announced Tuesday that July 11, 2016, will be the cutoff date to qualify for golf's return to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
"Where [July 11] falls in relation to the world golf schedule is still to be determined," Votaw said.
That date is a Monday, meaning the prior Sunday will be the competitive cutoff to get into the Olympic tournament. On the PGA Tour, the John Deere Classic has become the traditional lead-in to the year's third major championship. That means, for all intents and purposes, that the Deere will be very important in two years, barring a tournament move.
The top 15 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the men and Rolex Rankings for the women will be exempt into the field -- that is, unless there are more than four players from a single country in the top 15. In that case, four highest-ranked players from that country will qualify. If a country has less than three players in the top 15, the two highest-ranked players from that country will qualify.
The men will compete during the first week of the '16 Olympics, held Aug. 5-21. The women take the Gil Hanse-designed course the next week. But the course is a year behind schedule due to delays in securing the property for development. A test event was originally scheduled for some time in the first half of 2015, but it has now been pushed back to at least the second half of '15, if not early 2016, Votaw said Tuesday at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
Meanwhile, the season's final major, the PGA Championship, is expected to be plugged into the final week of July in 2016, clearing the stage for the Olympic tournaments to unfold during the traditional Wanamaker slot.