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Dutch golfer Darius van Driel has voiced his outrage and bewilderment at his nation’s officials after his shock snub from the Olympics. 

Van Driel, six-time DP World Tour winner Joost Luiten and LPGA Tour player Dewi Weber have all been denied the chance to represent the Netherlands in Paris – effectively because they aren’t deemed realistic medal hopes.

The Netherlands Golf Federation (NGF) attempted to reverse that decision in a June 14 meeting with the Dutch Olympic Committee, but it was concluded that Solheim Cup star Anne Van Dam was the only Dutch player worthy of being sent to the competition, which will take place at Le Golf National in August.

Ultimately, Dutch officials believed that despite qualifying via the Olympic criteria, the rejected trio were too low in the Official World Golf Rankings to have a chance of success.

The committee’s criteria – tweaked in June 2023 – had determined that, for men, anyone who finished outside the top 27 in the Olympic rankings would need at least top-eight finish in a tournament that had five players from the top 50 – or ten from the top 100 in the world.

“It’s so stupid, if every country would uphold our national demands, we would have 15 guys in the Olympics,” Van Driel told “No one would have qualified.

• Dutch officials deny golf duo Olympic golf chance

• Furious Joost Luiten tears into officials over Olympic snub

“The demands were way too harsh, it was obviously done by a guy who doesn’t know anything about golf, but our federation signed it. A lot of things went wrong.”

The “guy” in question is André Cats, the director of the Dutch Olympic Committee.

“It gets even worse,” Van Driel sighed. “Joost and our Federation went up to André, the guy who made the decision not to let us go. He asked us to keep it under wraps because it was two weeks before the closing qualifier.

“He said if you keep it under wraps, you can file it in for a veto vote, so you can still send athletes to the Olympics if you can motivate why you should go. We kept it under wraps and after the qualification period ended, we set up the motivation for why me and Joost should go.

Darius Van
Van Driel was preparing to make his Olympic debut (Credit: Getty Images)

“They had a big presentation about it with lots of figures telling him why golf is not like other sports – mentioning other stories like Rory Sabbatini (the world No.161 who won silver for Slovakia at the Tokyo Games in 2021) and guys who won majors who won majors who weren’t in the top 100 in the world.

“What they said was that it was a political choice. If he lets the golfers go all the other sports are going to do the same and its going to be a big shambles. It’s more a political issue now.

“They asked us to keep it quiet but Joost and I have said we’re not going to keep quiet anymore. The other sports must have something similar as well. It’s weird how its gone down. The guy who made the decision doesn’t know anything about golf but he’s the one who says we can’t go.”

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The controversial rebuff of golf has fuelled anger across the game in the Netherlands, with tour veteran Luiten stating that the Olympic committee “only understand the typical Dutch sports.”

Van Driel, who had his breakthrough DP World Tour victory at the Kenya Open in February, cannot fathom the thinking of those in his nation’s corridors of power.

“It’s more ridiculous because they used to say in Holland competing is more important than winning,” he said.

“They changed that statement for that Olympics. It’s not even the money. If its about the money, its in Paris, we drive there, we pay for our own hotels. They don’t have to do anything for us. Just say ‘hey, you guys can go and represent the Netherlands in your sport.’ That’s not even happening.

“The issue is that they think we can’t finish in the top-eight. To be honest the Olympics is the weakest field in golf. Only 60 guys in Europe. If anyone of those 60 guys has a good week – maybe Scottie Scheffler – but the other two medals are up for grabs.

“They said maybe they’d change it after the next Olympics, but that’s too late. Joost might already be retired for the next one. 

“A lot of people are angry, but in the end its down to one guy and I don’t know if someone p***ed him off or he doesn’t like golf. It could have been solved pretty quick but he chose not to do it.”

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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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