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The Next Olympic Sport?

The Next Olympic Sport?

(April 16, 2008) - The push for golf to become an Olympic sport is on again with both US PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and Augusta National Golf Club Chairman Billy Payne giving their support to the cause over the last few days.

In his regular online blog PGA Tour Commissioner Finchem has today issued a lengthy statement saying golf as an Olympic sport would only serve to grow the game and would not undermine the significance of the established majors.

“While golf has many significant events throughout the year, including the major championships, THE PLAYERS Championship and the World Golf Championships, adding golf to the Olympics would provide another dimension to our competitive landscape,” said Finchem.

“I do not believe that Olympic golf would have any effect on the stature or prestige of these other significant events, but rather would provide another, complementary opportunity for our players to compete and demonstrate their skills on a global stage.”

Finchem’s comments come only days after Augusta National Golf Club Chairman Billy Payne made public comment that the acceptance of golf as an Olympic sport would “jump-start” golf participation in many countries.

“I'm a great advocate of golf being part of the (Olympic) program and think it belongs there,” said Payne, who in his previous role was the driving force behind the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

“Once a sport is officially accepted into the Olympic program, it becomes entitled to distribution through their committees, to some of the proceeds of finance generated by the Olympics. That would be a way of importantly introducing the game to a lot of countries.”

Two-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson also supported Payne's comments last week saying he would be proud to represent his country at the Olympics.

The decision as to whether golf will be come an Olympic sport will be made in 2009, however with the International Olympic Committee requiring a seven year lead period for the inclusion of new sports, the earliest golf could be included in the Olympic program in 2016.

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