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Padraig Harrington supporter of golf in Olympics

Ireland's Padraig Harrington believes the Olympics could become the 'Major of all Majors' if golf is introduced at the 2008 Beijing Games.

World number eight Harrington said on Wednesday ahead of his defence of the BMW Asian Open in Shanghai that he was passionate about the Royal and Ancient game taking its place in the Olympics.

He added his voice to growing pressure on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to include golf for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. A decision on the issue is expected when the IOC meets in Singapore next year.

"Some golfers say we now have four Majors (and that is enough). But the four Majors were not the four Majors 70 years ago," he said.

"You never know in 50 years time maybe the Olympics will be the number one Major. It has to start somewhere."

Harrington said the Olympics was a "big deal" for people from small countries like Ireland and he would definitely compete.

Only five Irish athletes have won gold medals at Olympic Games since the country became an independent nation, with swimmer Michelle Smith picking up three in Atlanta in 1996.

"It would be unbelievable if golf got into the Olympics. It is a big deal in Ireland to be an Olympian and I would be very, very keen," he added, saying he hoped it would be included at the 2008 games in China.

"Hopefully it will be in for 2008 - I will put it on my schedule now," he said. "China is a fast growing place for golf. I do see it as a big step for the European Tour to be coming to China and I do believe there is a great future for golf here."

Former world number one Greg Norman of Australia, a long time champion of golf being included in the Olympics, raised the issue again here on Tuesday.

"You need to keep the IOC aware that the game of golf is one of the most global games out there, amongst the top five in the world. So why not include it?

"To include golf would be a dream for me as a player and as someone who is involved in the business of golf," said Norman, who has been paired to play with Chinese number one Zhang Lianwei in the first round on Thursday.

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