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Top players not keen on Olympic golf

Dreams of having Tiger Woods and the world's best playing in the Olympics have been firmly rejected by the players.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is keen to have golf and Woods in future Olympics, but an informal survey by AFP reveals the world number one and other top stars are not interested.

In a special IOC report, putting forward golf as an Olympic sport, it was stressed that it should only be included if the top players competed.

Woods admitted that he was not interested in winning an Olympic gold.

Winning Majors is his aim and any Olympics would come between the British Open and the USPGA.

"What do you think?" he replied when asked if he would travel to Beijing for the 2008 Olympics, upsetting his preparation for the USPGA.

Woods underlined his priorities in Kilkenny two weeks ago when quizzed about which was more important to him - winning the five million dollar World Golf Championship or winning the Ryder Cup the following week.

"Here this week," he flashed back.

Pushed to explain why, he replied, smiling: "A million reasons."

"This is a big event. These are the best players in the world. You're playing stroke-play on a great golf course. That's pretty important.

"I'm not saying the Ryder Cup is not important; it's a completely different animal. This is an individual animal, next week is a team effort," explained Woods.

And any golf in the Olympics would be the same - a team event and as Woods' record shows in the Ryder Cup he is not a team animal.

"Not interested," said world number three and British Open champion Ernie Els, playing here this week in the Dunhill Links championship.

Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke was even more emphatic.

"Never. We travel around the world enough and the last thing we need is the Olympics," he snapped.

European Ryder Cup hero Colin Montgomerie, who helped steer the Europeans to their historic victory over the United States at the Belfry last weekend, was equally unimpressed with the idea of trying to win Olympic gold.

"The Olympics. An amateur game. RetA," he smiled, referring to the Royal and Ancient, rulers of the world of golf with the United States Golf Association.

The IOC previously tried to get golf into the Olympics almost a decade ago and failed, and this latest attempt seems doomed as the purses are bigger than ever before and the top golfers already have a full calendar.

"I'm trying to cut back on my schedule, not increase it," said Woods.

And the IOC knows that without Woods an Olympic golf tournament would be a non-starter.

By far the best player in the world, without Woods, it would be a second class event.

The decision to decide if golf should be in the Olympics was to be decided in November in Mexico at an extraordinary IOC congress, but earlier this week IOC president Jacques Rogge suggested the decision could be put back until next year.

But even with such a delay it is unlikely that golf's greats will change their minds and go for gold instead of Majors.

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