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.'
Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award
The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.
The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.
Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.
The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.
A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.
Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4
Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.
Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.
South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.
Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.
The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.
Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout
It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.
Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.
Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.
"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."
Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.
Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.
Wie takes shot at LPGA dress code in crop top
The new LPGA dress code got mixed reviews when it was announced in July, and Michelle Wie is taking full advantage of her offseason with no restrictions.
The 28-year-old former U.S. Women's Open champion is keeping her game sharp while back in her home state of Hawaii, but couldn't help taking a shot at the rules while doing it, posting a photo to Instagram of her playing golf in a crop top with the caption, "Offseason = No dress code fine."
Wie isn't the first to voice her displeasure with the rules. Lexi Thompson posted a similar photo and caption to Instagram shortly after the policy was announced.