Nicklaus, Sorenstam Named Global Ambassadors For Olympic Golf BidDecember 18, 2008
Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. - The International Golf Federation today announced that two of the game's all-time greatest players, Jack Nicklaus and the recently retired Annika Sorenstam, will serve as Global Ambassadors in support of the IGF's bid to reinstate golf as an Olympic sport.
As Global Ambassadors, the two World Golf Hall of Fame members will represent the Olympic golf effort at select international events and lend ongoing support to the IGF's Olympic Golf Committee, which is spearheading the bid. This will include the Committee's future communication and meetings with the International Olympic Committee, which will vote on whether to add as many as two new sports to the 2016 Olympic Games in October 2009 at the 121st IOC session in Copenhagen, Denmark. Golf last was an Olympic sport in 1904 in St. Louis.
"It is an honor and privilege to take an active role in assisting golf's bid to become an Olympic sport," said Sorenstam, a native of Sweden whose stellar career includes 89 international victories as a professional, 72 on the LPGA Tour. Those 72 wins included three U.S. Women's Open titles. "Now, as I step aside from competitive golf, a major objective of mine is to help grow the game around the world and I can think of no better way to grow it than through the Olympics."
Sorenstam's last tournament appearance before retirement came this past weekend in Dubai. In June, Sorenstam signed on to become a USGA amabassador.
Nicklaus, considered by many the greatest player in the sport's history with a record 18 professional major championships (four U.S. Open titles) and 118 worldwide tournament victories, notes the perfect alignment between Olympic ideals and the values inherent in golf.
"As a player and now a course designer, I have seen the game of golf enjoy tremendous growth worldwide, and we are seeing the game introduced and grow in new countries and markets every day," said Nicklaus, who also claimed two U.S. Amateur and two U.S. Senior Open championships. "Golf truly embodies the Olympic spirit with a foundation built upon honor, integrity, dignity and sportsmanship. I believe with its inclusion, golf can strengthen the Olympic movement throughout the world. At the same time, it can have a tremendous impact on the growth of golf where it is a developing sport. I'm pleased to lend my support to the cause."
Many of the game's biggest stars already have voiced support for golf's Olympic bid. A number expressed their viewpoint in a series of short films shown to the IOC Programme Commission during last month's formal bid presentation made by Peter Dawson, chief executive of The R&A and joint secretary of the IGF, and PGA TOUR executive Ty Votaw, Executive Director of the IGF Olympic Golf Committee. Among the players featured in the films were the world's top-ranked male and female players, Tiger Woods of the United States and Lorena Ochoa of Mexico (films available for viewing at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwtHP4DH-vE). Woods owns 14 major titles, including three U.S. Opens. He has claimed nine USGA championships to tie him with Bob Jones for the most in history.
"We've said all along that it is critical to have the support of the game's leading players, and now to have two of golf's icons serve as Global Ambassadors for the Olympic cause speaks volumes to the degree of support we have," Votaw said.
Golf is one of seven sports vying for inclusion in the 2016 Games. The others are baseball, karate, roller sports, rugby sevens, softball and squash.
The next step in the process is for each sport to submit responses to a detailed questionnaire in March that will constitute the formal and technical bid. The IGF will be soliciting input from the world's top players to help finalize the proposed format for Olympic golf competition. Dawson and Votaw told the IOC that the IGF's initial thinking is for 60-player fields for both men and women playing in a yet-to-be determined individual competitive format.
Prior to the final decision, each sport under consideration will respond by May to any questions the IOC Programme Committee might have regarding the detailed questionnaire. A second presentation to the IOC Executive Board will take place in June, with the final vote taking place in October in Copenhagen. The host city for the 2016 Games also will be determined at that time. Dawson and Votaw have noted the ease with which golf would fit into any of the four finalists to host the 2016 Games due to existing golf facilities in those cities - Chicago; Madrid, Spain; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Tokyo, Japan.
About the International Golf Federation
The IGF was founded in 1958 to encourage the international development of the game and to employ golf as a vehicle to foster friendship and sportsmanship. Recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the official international federation for golf, the IGF is comprised of 119 national governing bodies of golf in 114 countries.
The IGF is recognized as the representative body for golf by the International Olympic Committee and has created an Olympic Golf Committee to drive its effort for the sport's inclusion in the 2016 Games. Organizations represented on the committee are The R&A, PGA European Tour, USGA, PGA of America, PGA TOUR, LPGA and Augusta National Golf Club.
Chris Smith, PGA TOUR, 904-273-3379, email@example.com
Dave Fanucchi, USGA, 908-470-1993, DFanucchi@USGA.org