IOC recommends golf for 2016 Olympics

Ty Votaw, Olympic golf announcement at 2009 PGA Championship
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Ty Votaw, the Tour's vice president of communication and international affairs, during Thursday's press conference at Hazeltine.

CHASKA, Minn. - Meeting in Berlin on Thursday, the International Olympic Committee executive board recommended golf be made an Olympic sport for the 2016 Games, raising hopes that the rallying cry for the quadrennial sporting event will soon be citius (swifter), altius (higher), fortius (stronger), Titleist.

The IOC executives also recommended adding rugby, but the sports are not officially in yet. The full IOC assembly will make a final vote in Copenhagen in October.

"We are obviously thrilled with this announcement," said the PGA Tour's Ty Votaw, who for the past year and a half has been spearheading golf's Olympic bid. "It takes [us] an important step closer for golf to return as an Olympic sport."

 

The host city for the 2016 Games will also be announced in October; the finalists are Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.

Several big-name players had been anticipating Thursday's news, which came as the 91st PGA Championship was getting under way at Hazeltine National Golf Club. Even Tiger Woods sounded ready to show up at another golf tournament.

"I think that golf is truly a global sport, and I think it should have been in the Olympics a while ago," he said on Tuesday. "If it does get in, I think it would be great for golf and especially some of the other smaller countries that are now emerging in golf."

And would Woods play in 2016, if eligible?

"If I'm not retired by then," he said, "yeah."

Lorena Ochoa, the No. 1 player in women's golf, has also expressed her support.

Colin Montgomerie, who helped state golf's case to the IOC in Lausanne, Switzerland, with the PGA Tour's Tim Finchem and Votaw, the R&A's Peter Dawson and then-LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens, said earlier this week, "I just hope and pray" that golf gets the nod. Montgomerie reminded journalists that golf was in fact an Olympic sport in the 1900 and 1904 Olympics.

Others sounded similarly excited even though Olympic golf would have to fit into an already crowded schedule of late-summer tournaments, including the majors and the FedEx Cup.

"I'd love to be an Olympian," Padraig Harrington said. "Doesn't that sound good? Imagine us being Olympic athletes."

"I've always loved watching the Olympics," Sergio Garcia said. "So to be able to be a part of the Olympics will be something unbelievable."

The proposed format is four rounds of stroke play, although that could change. There would be a 60-player men's field and a 60-player women's field; teams would feature the top two eligible players from each country. That also could change.

"We think there has never been a better time to promote golf as a sport, given the level of play on both the men's and the women's tours," said the PGA of America's Joe Steranka.

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