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Augusta Chairman supports Olympic golf

Augusta National chairman Billy Payne, the driving force behind the 1996 Olympics at Atlanta, has reignited the call for golf to become an Olympic sport.

Speaking on the eve of the US Masters, Payne said acceptance as an Olympic sport would "jump-start" golf in many countries.

"I'm a great advocate of golf being part of the (Olympic) program and think it belongs there," Payne said.

"Once a sport is 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 echoed Payne's call and said he would be proud to represent his country at the Olympics.

"I would definitely play if given the opportunity," Mickelson said.

"I think the game of golf has to grow at an international level, and being in the Olympics would be the biggest step in helping to grow the game.

"We seem to be stagnant in the growth of the game. In the US we lose as many golfers as we gain each year. If we could make it an Olympic sport, it would grow internationally."

Payne is an innovative chairman at the traditionally conservative Augusta National.

April 10, 2008


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