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Players divided over golf in the Olympics

Golf's bid to be included as an Olympic sport has been met with a divided response from some of the game's top players.

The International Golf Federation (IGF), a body representing the world's leading tours and major organisers, last month announced they had formed an Olympic Golf Committee to drive their effort for the sport's inclusion in the 2016 Games.

The IGF want golf to be one of two sports from a shortlist of seven to be allowed to enter the Games when a vote is taken at the International Olympic Committee's 121st session in Copenhagen in 14 months' time.

Masters champion Trevor Immelman, though, is totally against the idea of golf and many other sports being placed on the Olympic schedule.

"I'm going to go totally probably against stream here," Immelman said. "I don't think that golf should be an Olympic sport at all.

"I don't think basketball should be an Olympic sport, I don't think tennis should be an Olympic sport.

"If I was running the Olympics I would go back to the way it was originally: gymnastics, weightlifting, swimming, track and field, marathons, that's to me what the Olympics is.

"The Olympics is not about tennis or golf or anything like that.

"In my opinion those are like basketball - you've got three sports there that are guys getting paid a lot of money to play and compete week in and week out playing those sports, and it's just so professional. And to me that's not what the Olympics is about.

"To me the Olympics was founded on amateur sports, guys go in there and train for four years and put their whole lives on the line to win a gold medal.

"So whether I get into trouble for saying this or not, who knows, but that's my opinion. I feel like if I was running, if I was head of the Olympic committee, I would go back to just those specific sports that I mentioned earlier. I think that would be pretty cool."

World No2 Phil Mickelson, however, sees the Olympics as an excellent way to reach a totally new and global audience for the game.

"Having golf as an Olympic sport is exponentially more important to the game of golf than the majors," Mickelson said during a press conference ahead of this week's US PGA Championship at Oakland Hills.

"It would bring in 168 different countries and their Olympic foundation and all those revenues and that would go towards the growth of the game of golf.

"Every country wants to be represented properly in the Olympics.

"The Olympics brings us to new markets on a worldwide scale and I can't imagine how big the game would become in countries like China and India that has so many more people than the United States does.

"If it became a priority for those countries to partake successfully in the Olympics and put the revenue in towards growing the game there, just about everybody would win."

Englishman Ian Poulter chose to side with Immelman on the issue.

"I haven't really looked into the thought of playing in the Olympic Games to be honest.

"It's never been in the Olympics, so I really haven't paid any attention to it at all at the minute," Poulter said.

"Right now I don't have any interest in doing so. But that might change. It might not.

"I think our schedule, on a global basis, is pretty hectic. I think it's very tiresome, and it just adds another complication in doing your scheduling in the year."

August 12, 2008


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