Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Golf Proposed for 2016 Olympics


LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications
Golf brought in star player heavyweights Colin Montgomerie and Annika Sorenstam to state their case for Games inclusion before the IOC executive board. The International Golf Federation has worked hard to dispel the idea that its top level multi-million dollar players might not be available to play at the Games.
Montgomerie, Europe's Ryder Cup captain, pledged his full intent to play at the Olympics should golf make the vote and also spoke on behalf of other top players. The notion of being the first Olympic medal winner in 117 years was compelling motivation.
IGF executive director Ty Votaw said: "We feel it was very important for the IOC executive to be able to personally hear from two of the game’s most highly respected players in Annika and Colin.
"We also presented a film featuring 16 of the game’s most prominent players including current world No1-ranked Lorena Ochoa and Tiger Woods, as well as IGF global ambassador Jack Nicklaus describing the compelling reasons why golf should be reinstated as an Olympic sport after an absence of more than a century."
Sorenstam, winner of 10 women's majors, said: "I can't think of a tougher championship. You only get a chance to win once every four years rather than four times a year. The moments when you represent your own country are the highlights of your career. It doesn't happen very often. There is something special about that."
Golf now numbers 121 national federations around the world and has expanded its top tour organizations to 19: The Asian Tour, Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour, Canadian Professional Golf Tour, Japan Golf Tour Organisation, The Ladies Professional Golfers Association of Japan, Korea Ladies Professional Golf Association, Korean Professional Golf Association, Ladies European Tour, Ladies Asian Golf Tour Ltd., PGA TOUR of Australasia, The Sunshine Tour and The Tour de las Americas.
The IGF team stressed the commitment of the member organizations to be flexible with their summer programs to enable the best players to be at the Games. It also put up for consideration the idea of 72-hole individual stroke play for both men and women. In case of a tie for first, second or third place a three hole play-off is being recommended to determine medal winners.
The IGF also proposed a group of 60 players for each of the men's and women's competitions, using the official world golf rankings to determine eligibility. This way the top 15 world-ranked players would be eligible for the Games, regardless of the number of players from a given country.
Beyond the top 15, players would be eligible based on world ranking, with a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top 15. This proposal could ensure that there are 30 countries in the men’s and women’s competitions from all continents.
Golf was originally played in the Olympics in 1904 but only the United States and Canada were in the competition. Since then the worldwide golf movement has expanded dramatically.
Golf is in the bid with six other sports - baseball, karate, roller sports, rugby, softball, and squash - to gain a place on the 2016 Olympic programme. The vote will be held late in the meetings in October at the IOC session in Copenhagen.