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Hanse: Latin America Am may be Olympic test site

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Olympic course architect Gil Hanse said Thursday on “Morning Drive” that the venue will “definitely” be ready for the 2016 Games and that the Latin America Amateur will likely serve as the test event.

With the Winter Olympics getting underway Thursday in Sochi, Russia, the clock is officially ticking for the 2016 Games, when golf will return to the Olympics for the first time in more than a century. 

The return hasn’t been without a few stumbles – mostly, the lengthy delays Hanse and Co. have endured because of land issues and ownership squabbles in Rio de Janeiro.

But, as Hanse said Thursday on Golf Channel: “We’re moving. I don’t think anybody who is on the golf side of the equation is really that pleased with the pace, but there’s no panic. We’re definitely going to be ready for the event. … I’m really excited about what we’re building, and from that standpoint, everything is turning out wonderfully.”

Though it has not been officially announced, Hanse said that the test event for the Olympics likely would come at the newly announced Latin America Amateur Championship. Hanse has said repeatedly that the course should be completed in summer 2015, with a test event held soon after. A few weeks ago, when the 2015 Latin America Am was unveiled, it was said to be heading to Pilar Golf Club, near Argentina, on Jan. 15-18.

Hanse said that R&A chief executive Peter Dawson recently made a visit to the Olympic site and was pleased with the progress.

“It’s nice to get some affirmation from outside from someone who is knowledgeable about golf to say, hey, this is looking pretty good,” Hanse said.