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Final Meeting Set for Getting Golf into Olympics
Colin Montgomerie, European Captain for the 2010 Ryder Cup, and Annika Sorenstam, International Golf Federation (IGF) Global Ambassador, will join representatives of the IGF when golf's final case for inclusion in the 2016 Olympic Games will be made to the International Olympic Committee Executive Board on June 15 in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Sorenstam and Montgomerie will join PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, LPGA of Japan President and World Golf Hall of Fame member Hisako "Chako" Higuchi, IGF Co-Secretary Peter Dawson and IGF Executive Director Ty Votaw for the presentation. Dawson and Votaw have been coordinating golf's Olympic bid.
"We feel it is very important for the IOC Executive Board to be able to personally hear from two of the game's most highly respected players in Annika and Colin," Votaw said. "We will also be presenting a film featuring 16 of the game's most prominent players, including current World No. 1-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."
Golf last was part of the Olympic Games in 1904, when the United States and Canada were the only competing nations.
The IGF also announced that its Olympic Golf Committee, whose purpose is to oversee and administer all aspects of golf's inclusion on the Olympic Program, was expanded from its original seven members to 19 organizations. The new members are: the Asian Tour, Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour, Canadian Professional Golf Tour, Japan Golf Tour Organization, 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.
These organizations previously served on the IGF Professional Golf Advisory Committee, whose role is to ensure the Olympic Golf Committee's objective and associated activities are consistent with the values of both golf and the Olympic Movement. They join the original IGF Olympic Golf Committee members the R&A, European Tour, USGA, PGA of America, PGA Tour, LPGA and the Masters Tournament.
Additionally, the IGF announced that the Guam National Golf Federation and Cambodian Golf Federation have joined the IGF, increasing the total number of members to 121 from 116 countries.
"These developments within the IGF structure are reflective of the continued strong international interest and support for golf becoming an Olympic sport," Dawson said. "As we have noted, never before have all levels of golf around the world been as united towards a single goal as golf becoming an Olympic sport. Additionally, golf's inherent values align very closely with those of the Olympic Movement, including honesty, honor, dignity and sportsmanship."
Golf is one of seven sports being considered for inclusion starting with the 2016 Games. The IOC Executive Committee is expected to recommend two sports in August to the IOC membership to vote on for the 2016 Olympic Program.
The IOC's final vote will take place in early October at the 121st IOC session in Copenhagen, Denmark. The host for the 2016 Games will also be determined during that session. The candidate cities are: Chicago, USA; Madrid, Spain; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Tokyo, Japan. Dawson and Votaw previously noted the ease with which golf would fit into any of the four finalists due to existing golf facilities in those cities.
During the upcoming presentation to the IOC Executive Board, the IGF representatives will stress the commitment by member organizations to adjust their summer schedules to ensure that no major championship conflicts or competes with the Olympic golf competition, and that the sport's best athletes would be made available to participate in the Olympic Games.
The IGF will also review the proposed format of 72-hole individual stroke play for both men and women, reflecting leading players' opinion that this is the fairest and best way to identify a champion, mirroring the format used in golf's major championships. In case of a tie for either first, second or third place, a three-hole play-off is recommended to determine the medal winner(s).
The IGF also is recommending an Olympic field of 60 players for each of the men's and women's competition, utilizing the official world golf rankings as a method of determining eligibility. The top 15 world-ranked 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 that does not already have two or more players among the top 15.
Under this proposal, at least 30 countries would be represented in both the men's and women's competitions, from all continents.
For additional information about the IGF's Olympics' effort, visit www.internationalgolffederation.org.