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Olympic course update: Grass is (almost) growing

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – After months of delays, the water is flowing and the grass is growing – almost – at the Olympic golf course in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“We hooked the irrigation and pump station up (Thursday) and things are starting to get moving,” Gil Hanse, the architect of the Olympic course, told GolfChannel.com. “We are very excited.”

This news comes on the heels of a report in Friday’s London Evening Standard that Olympic organizers have “secretly” asked officials in London if they would be able to host the 2016 Games because of so many construction delays in Brazil.

According to the report, at this point prior to the 2012 Games in London 60 percent of the infrastructure was completed. In 2004 before the Games in Athens, officials had completed 40 percent of its construction, while just 10 percent of the infrastructure requirements have been met in Brazil.

International Olympic Committee vice president John Coates recently called Brazil’s preparations “the worst I’ve experienced.” R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said in March he was “not satisfied” with the progress on the golf course.

The report did conclude that the chance of the ’16 Games being moved to London were “infinitesimally small,” and the news coming from the Rio golf course on Friday was encouraging.

Hanse said his crews plan to flush the irrigation system in the next few days and plan to start grassing the layout – which has already been shaped – on May 20 with hopes of having the entire course grassed by November.

“We need two good growing seasons, which we would have before the Olympics,” Hanse said.