Golf World delight at IOC vote

Tiger Woods has spearheaded golf’s worldwide welcome to the news that golf is on course to become an Olympic sport.

Tiger Woods has spearheaded the worldwide welcome to the news that golf is on course to become an Olympic sport in 2016.

Whether or not the current world number one remains an active player in seven years’ time, he strongly believes the sport is well worth its place in the Games.

Golf moved a step closer to inclusion as the executive board of the International Olympic Committee recommended it for addition to the programme from 2016.

Rugby union sevens also received a similar nomination and a final decision will be made in October.

“I hope it will pass in October and it will truly be an Olympic sport,” said Woods.

“It has been overdue for golf. It’s truly a global sport.”

Golf bosses are also confident Olympic gold will become one of the most sought after prizes in the sport.

Critics have claimed golf, like tennis, has no place in the Olympics because it already has major tournaments of high prestige.

But Peter Dawson, chief executive of the Royal & Ancient, said: “If you saw Rafael Nadal win the gold medal in Beijing, he wanted it very badly.

“There is no question of that and I am sure it will be the same thing in golf.

“The majors are the pinnacle of golf but the Olympics are the pinnacle of sport and I am sure the world’s top golfers will want to be there alongside the top athletes in their discipline.

“It is going to add to the golfing landscape without doubt.”

Colin Montgomerie praised the endorsement of the game’s leading players in helping to get golf recommended, most notably Woods.

“I heard that Tiger… will play, and I’m delighted that he’s put his name forward to competing not just for himself but for the United States,” Montgomerie said. “That gives us all a boost.”

Asian Tour chief Kyi Hla Han believes Asia will gain immensely if golf is reinstated as an Olympic sport

The International Olympic Committee’s final vote will take place on October 9, 2009 at its 121st session in Copenhagen, Denmark and while the membership of the IOC is not obliged to follow the Executive Board’s recommendation, the Board’s decision is based on an extensive review process of seven candidate sports which has included formal presentations, the submission of a detailed questionnaire and responses to questions raised by both the IOC Programme Commission and the IOC Executive Board.

Decisions taken after investigation of this kind are unlikely to be over-turned

Han, the Asian Tour’s Executive Chairman, said today: “It will be tremendous if the IOC session endorses the recommendation from the Executive Board. With the growing success of Asian golfers in international tournaments, the Olympics offer a wonderful opportunity to showcase Asian golf while building national pride amongst participating countries.

“But, perhaps, more importantly, a return to the Olympics programme will also encourage governments across the region to play a more pro-active role in developing the game at all levels, from the grass-roots to the elite players.”

The IOC Executive Board announced its decision today following a meeting in Berlin, Germany.

“We’re obviously thrilled the IOC Executive Board has recommended that golf should be added to the 2016 Olympic Programme,” said Ty Votaw, Executive Director of the International Golf Federation Olympic Golf Committee, which has been coordinating the Olympic bid.

“We believe we have presented a compelling case as to why golf should be added and we look forward to the IOC’s final vote in October.”

Golf was last played at the Olympic Games in 1904, when the United States and Canada were the only competing nations.

Throughout the process, the IGF has stressed the unprecedented unified support by international golf organisations, including a commitment by those who conduct Major Championships to adjust their summer schedules to ensure their respective tournaments will not conflict or compete with the Olympic golf competition, as well as the resounding support of golf’s top-ranked male and female players.

Player support has been highlighted in various ways, including short films which have been shown to the IOC Programme Commission and Executive Board and there was also a letter campaign in which international players sent personalised letters to IOC members from their respective countries.

Legends Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sorenstam were Global Ambassadors on behalf of the IGF’s bid, and the two appeared with 2010 European Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie at golf’s final presentation to the IOC Executive Board in June in Lausanne, Switzerland.

“We made it clear from the outset of the bid process that we absolutely needed support from the world’s leading players to have the best chance of being selected for the 2016 Olympic Games, and we have demonstrated that support,” said Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of The R&A and joint secretary of the IGF.

“We also stressed the united support from the leading golf organisations throughout the world, as well as the universal nature of golf, with 60 million people playing the sport in more than 120 countries.”

The IGF’s Olympic Golf Committee, which originally included The R&A, The European Tour, the United States Golf Association, the PGA of America, the US PGA Tour, LPGA and the Masters Tournament, has been expanded to now include 19 organisations.

Amongst them are The Asian Tour, the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour, the Canadian Professional Golf Tour, the 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, the PGA Tour of Australasia, the Sunshine Tour of Southern Africa and the Tour de Las Americas.

The IGF has 121 member federations from 116 countries, the most recent additions being the Guam National Golf Federation and Cambodian Golf Federation.

In terms of Olympic competition, the IGF has proposed a format of 72-hole individual stroke play events for both men and women, reflecting leading players’ opinion that this is the fairest and best way to identify a champion and mirroring the format used in Major Championships.

In the case of a tie for either first, second or third place, a three-hole play-off is recommended to determine the medal winners.

The IGF has recommended an Olympic field of 60 players for each of the men’s and women’s competition, using the Official Golf World Ranking as a method of determining eligibility.

The top 15 players would be eligible for the Olympics, 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 which does not already have two or more players among the top 15.

Under this proposal, and based on the current World Rankings from both the men’s and women’s games, at least 30