Golf added to 2016 and 2020 Olympics
After more than a century on the sidelines, golf will return to the Olympics at the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. Rugby, last played in 1924, is coming back as well.
Both were reinstated for the 2016 and 2020 games after a vote Friday by the International Olympic Committee.
Each sport received majority support in separate votes after leading athletes and officials from both camps gave presentations, including a taped video message from Woods and other top pros. Woods has indicated he would play in the Olympics if golf were accepted for 2016.
'There are millions of young golfers worldwide who would be proud to represent their country,' Woods said from the Presidents Cup in San Francisco. 'It would be an honor for anyone who plays this game to become an Olympian.'
Golf was approved 63-27 with two abstentions. Rugby was voted in 81-8 with one abstention.
Golf will stage a 72-hole stroke-play tournament for men and women, with 60 players in each field. Rugby will organize a four-day seven-a-side tournament -- instead of the more traditional 15-a-side game -- for 12 men's and women's teams.
'I think it will be awesome to grow the game of golf, and it would be an honor to play for [your] country,' England's Ian Poulter said Friday on his Twitter feed.
The venue and schedule for both sports in Rio de Janeiro has yet to be decided. The golf tournament will not necessarily be played Thursday through Sunday, bid leader Ty Votaw said.
'It might be Wednesday to Saturday,' Votaw said. 'Or it might be that the women's competition is first, and the men's is second. ... All of those things need to be worked out over the next seven years.'
Padraig Harrington and Michelle Wie addressed the IOC in person before the vote. Wie talked about taking up golf when she was 4 but never being able to dream of an Olympic medal until now.
'I can dream about doing something that neither Tiger nor Ernie (Els) have ever done, and that is to make the final putt to win an Olympic gold medal,' Wie said. 'If this dream comes true, somewhere in the world there will be another 4-year-old who sees me on that podium and perhaps starts her own Olympic dream.'
Rugby officials touted their sport as a modern game that can attract young fans and new sponsors.
'The sevens format is made for television, made for sponsors, and most importantly loved for fans and players alike,' said bid leader Mike Miller, the secretary-general of the International Rugby Board. 'Rugby and Rio were made for each other. A great atmosphere, great sport and a good time. And I think that's what the Olympic Games are going to be all about.'
Golf gave a commitment to the IOC that it would not stage any major championships on the Olympic dates. The Rugby Sevens World Cup will be canceled if the sport is added to the Olympics.
They are the first new sports added since triathlon and taekwondo joined the program for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
The vote was a reversal of the IOC's decision four years ago to reject golf and rugby for the 2012 Olympics, and brings the number of summer Olympic sports back to 28. There have been two openings on the program since baseball and softball were dropped in 2005 for the 2012 London Games.
Rugby and golf both made their Olympic debuts at the second modern games in Paris in 1900. Golf was played again only at the 1904 St. Louis Games, and 15-a-side rugby was featured three more times, its last appearance in the 1924 Paris Olympics.
Their status for the 2020 Olympics will be reviewed by the IOC in 2017.
Friday's vote also was a victory for Jacques Rogge, the IOC president who was re-elected to a final four-year term hours earlier. The 67-year-old Belgian, the president since 2001, was the only candidate.
'Time will show your decision [on the new sports] was very wise,' Rogge said.
Golf and rugby were put forward by the executive board in August under Rogge's guidance, at the expense of five other sports that were cut -- baseball, softball, squash, karate and roller sports.
The selection process angered some IOC members, who wanted all seven sports put to a vote by the entire assembly. Senior Canadian member Dick Pound complained before the vote that the members were never told why the two sports were selected over the other five.
'It is not fair to the other five sports,' Pound said. 'Because you decided the way you did, it is not a transparent process.'
The new selection system was put in place after the IOC failed to agree on which two sports should be added to the 2012 program, leaving the London Games with 26 sports instead of the usual 28. A similar failure this time would have been a blow to Rogge and the executive board.
As expected, golf faced more opposition than rugby. It also faced tougher questioning from IOC members, about the high cost of playing the sport, its accessibility in developing countries and the fact that some top clubs don't admit women members.
'There are some serious problems with some clubs where major events are held, in terms of discrimination,' American member Anita Defranz said. She urged the IOC to 'avoid going down a road that may be harmful to our image.'
Votaw, however, was not concerned with the level of opposition within the Olympic body.
'We're not thinking about the 27 votes,' he said. 'We're just pleased with the 60-plus.'
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia
This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.
The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.
Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.
The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.
A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.
And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.
Green jacket tour
Man of the people
Ace at 17th at Sawgrass
Departure from TaylorMade
Squashed beef with Paddy
Victory at Valderrama
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18
Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf
Well, this is a one new one.
According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:
“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”
Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.
“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.
The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.
“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”
The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.
Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.
Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.
PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation
Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.
The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.
The statement reads:
The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.
Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.
The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.
The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.
The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.