Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Another push for golf at the Olympics

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem offered his support Tuesday for golf to become an Olympic sport, an endorsement that could give golf its strongest chance since it was dropped from the Olympic program more than 100 years ago.

"While there remain questions to be answered and issues to be resolved, I believe the time is now right to move forward," Finchem said on a blog he posted on the tour's Web site.

Because the International Olympic Committee requires seven years for a sport to be added, the earliest golf could be part of the Olympics is 2016. The IOC will meet next year to vote on a host for the 2016 Games and decide whether to include additional sports.

Any bid would have to come through the International Golf Federation, which the IOC recognizes as golf's ruling body for the Olympics. It is run jointly by USGA executive director David Fay and Royal & Ancient Golf Club chief executive Peter Dawson.

Golf last was played in the Olympics in 1904, with Canadian George Lyon winning the gold medal.

It almost was part of the Atlanta Games in 1996 - at Augusta National, no less - until IOC member Anita DeFrantz and others criticized the club's all-male membership, and the fact it had only recently taken a black member.

The last attempt for Olympic golf came in 2005.

"It failed for a pragmatic reason," Fay said. "It's not going to succeed unless the professional tours are behind it. We haven't had the professional bodies express support for it since Atlanta."

Finchem said golf as an Olympic sport would promote growth around the world. And while he mentioned that golf already has four majors, three World Golf Championships and The Players Championship, he thought there was room for golf in the Olympics...

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