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Stroke play likely to stay for 2016 Olympics

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There has been a lot of talk the last few days about golf’s plan to use a 72-hole stroke play format when the game returns to the Olympics in 2016.

Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews chief executive Peter Dawson suggested during last month’s Open Championship that, “we all had this at the back of our mind at the start, ‘Wouldn't it be nice to make the Olympic competition a little bit different, at least from the week in, week out competition?’”

At this stage, however, a format change doesn’t seem likely for the 2016 Games.

On his way back to the United States from London, Ty Votaw, a PGA Tour official who is the executive director of the International Golf Foundation’s Olympic Golf Committee, told GTC that any format change, such as a suggested move to a team match-play competition, would need to be approved by the International Olympic Committee.

“It’s unlikely it’s going to change because (72-hole stroke play) was the way it was presented to the IOC,” Votaw said. “Most Olympic sports are individual sports, not a team competition. But we are open to a different format post-2016.”

As the clock begins its countdown to the '16 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Votaw said he made a note of how high-profile athletes like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant embraced the event and what impact they have on the growth of their sport.

“Having seen LeBron and Kobe walk in with their teammates during the opening ceremony, they were taking pictures and taking it all in, it’s clear this is going to be huge for golf,” he said.