All eyes are on Kasumigaseki Country Club, host venue for the Olympic golf events. Check out current form for those teeing-up on Thursday. Words and stats by Andy Swales...
"Schauffele and Thomas have developed reputations for performing well in tournaments that have small fields and no cut. Three of Schauffele's four PGA Tour titles have arrived this way, while Thomas has won a whopping nine of them - from 14 victories in all."
Twelve months later than planned, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics finally got underway last week.
And for only the second time since 1904, golf is included in the 17-day sporting bonanza.
Five years ago in Rio, Justin Rose edged out Henrik Stenson to secure gold, with American Matt Kuchar collecting bronze. None of the 2016 medallists have qualified for this week's tournament.
Both the men's and women's events will be played at Kasumigaseki Country Club, some 25 miles north-west of Tokyo city centre.
This 92-year-old parkland venue has staged a number of professional tournaments during its history.
The East Course at Kasumigaseki hosted the World Cup of Golf in 1957, along with two Japan Opens - the most recent of these 26 years ago.
It is a lush layout with tree-lined fairways, and bears a striking resemblance to the West Course at Wentworth.
The layout has been given a comprehensive upgrade in readiness to host the Olympics, with the focus more on accuracy than power.
Water is only really an issue on the final hole, even though there is a sizeable pond on the par-three 10th which shouldn't really cause too many problems for professional golfers.
Once again, the field has been set at 60 players, with qualification based on World Ranking positions following the completion of last month's US Open.
The top 15 players in the Ranking were eligible to compete - although there is a limit of four golfers from any one country.
Outside of the top 15, the remaining slots went to the highest-ranked players from countries that did not already have two golfers qualified.
Latest betting for this week's men's Olympic tournament
Countries that didn't have either three or four pros qualifying from inside the top 15 are only permitted a maximum of two.
Sixteen golfers turned down the opportunity to compete, which meant the lowest ranked golfer in the field at time of qualification was India's Udayan Mane at No 356 in the list.
Among those to reject an invite was world No 2 Dustin Johnson, while three golfers from the United Kingdom also spurned the chance to compete - the most rejections from any single nation.
These were Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick and Lee Westwood, and you have to wonder if any will regret this decision later in life.
Five years ago, as the recently-crowned Open champion, Henrik Stenson expressed his delight at being given the opportunity to take part in The Olympics. "Something to tell the grandchildren," he explained. He went on to finish second.
And over the weekend the Covid-virus struck again, with world No 1 Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau having to withdraw from the tournament.
On the tee
There are probably only 20 golfers with a realistic chance of winning this event, maybe 25 at most, and it's highly unlikely that anyone currently ranked outside the world's top 50 will claim gold.
In 2016, all three medallists were ranked inside the world's top-20 going into the tournament. Rose and Stenson were 12th and 5th respectively, while Kuchar was No 20. Kuchar was the eighth-highest ranked golfer of those taking part.
If this week's event follows a similar pattern, then the United States look in great shape to scoop perhaps a couple of medals.
Collin Morikawa, Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele are all currently ranked inside the top-five, with the United States the only country with more than two players teeing-up on Thursday.
Patrick Reed, who replaced DeChambeau, is the USA's other golfer and the only one to have played in Rio five years ago when he tied-11th.
That experience, plus his late unexpected call-up, should mean Reed will be one of the most relaxed golfers competing this week.
His compatriots Schauffele and Thomas have developed reputations for performing well in tournaments that have small fields and no cut.
Three of Schauffele's four PGA Tour titles have arrived this way, while Thomas has won a whopping nine of them - from 14 victories in all. Both have also lost a play-off in these types of events.
Outside of the Americans, the consistency and accuracy of Britain's Paul Casey and Mexican Abraham Ancer must give both golfers a strong chance of collecting a medal - perhaps even gold.
Twitter: Andy Swales@GolfStatsAlive
MC* - Missed Additional 54-Hole Cut
Note: List Contains Leading Reserves
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