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Olympics A Hot Topic On Tour

SAN ANTONIO | Several players in the Valero Texas Open field said the decision by high-profile players like Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott and Vijay Singh to bypass this summer’s return of golf to the Olympic Games is understandable and there may be more withdrawals to come.

golf-olympic-rings“I get why Adam and some guys don’t want to play in the Olympics,” said Scott’s fellow Australian and past U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy. “It might turn out to be great for the future, but it’s not proven yet.

“The Olympics are the pinnacle for most sports and most athletes, the absolute peak, but we have the four majors. To be honest, there are about 10 tournaments I would rather win than the Olympics.”

While no players interviewed would specifically commit to not playing in the Olympics if they qualified to compete for their nation, the notion that most Tour players are eager for golf’s return in Rio de Janeiro took an Olympic-sized beating.

“The four majors are our metric, what we’re judged on,” said England’s Luke Donald.

“I suppose you would want to play in it once, but does it have to be this year? I don’t know if you would do it this time or maybe next,” added South African Branden Grace.

riogolfolympicsSeveral players cited the tightly packed schedule in July and August, which along with the Olympics includes the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the Open Championship and the PGA Championship. The FedEx Cup playoffs and the Ryder Cup follow not long after the Games.

“If the Olympics were in Canada or somewhere closer it would be easier,” said Grace. “That’s a long trip down there with the other events we have this summer.”

While American Matt Kuchar said he would be “psyched” to be part of the American team for the Olympics, he said the format, four days of stroke play, hasn’t excited many players.

“They should have used the old World Cup format,” Kuchar said, “alternate shot, best ball, even mixed teams. The four-day tournament is historically the way to measure the best players, but for the Olympics you could have done a six-day tournament or even two weeks if you wanted to play every day. It’s not very creative.”

Not surprisingly, Patrick Reed was gung-ho for a chance at Olympic gold this summer as were some others.

“Any chance to represent the Stars and Stripes. Just let know when and where and I’m there,” said Reed, who played in the Ryder Cup in 2014 and Presidents Cup last year.

“I would bend my schedule any direction to play in the Olympics,” said Argentina’s Andrés Romero through a translator.

“We are a very small country, so the Olympics are a huge deal for us,” added Ireland’s Pádraig Harrington.

Even skeptics like Ogilvy admit eventually Olympic golf will catch on with Tour players.

“Would I rather win an U.S. Open or an Olympic gold medal? Honestly I’d rather win an Open or PGA, but when we’re all sitting around at home at age 100, a gold medal would look pretty cool on the mantel.”

By Art Stricklin – Global Golf Post