One of the liveliest discussion topics among players at the OMEGA Mission Hills World Cup was golf’s debut as an Olympic sport at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. OMEGA, the World Cup’s title sponsor, also serves as Official Timekeeper for the Olympic Games. The brand’s contract with the International Olympic Committee extends through 2020.
Many of the golfers were looking ahead and calculating how old they would be when golf is introduced as an Olympic sport. Spain’s Sergio Garcia said, “I’m 29 and will be 36 in 2016 so if I stay in good shape, I might have three chances of getting to the Olympic Games, so I’m looking forward to it. When you watch the Olympics on TV you see all the runners and the athletes and think it would be nice to have that chance. Finally, it has happened and we are all very excited.”
Y. E. Yang, the Korean who won this year’s PGA Championship, said that golf’s inclusion as an Olympic sport would motivate countries and their national Olympic committees to take an active role in preparing for the event, saying, “It’s great for the sport. I believe that the Korean government and the Olympic Committee will put a lot of effort into finding the most efficient way to promote golf, support golfers and elevate the sport in Korea in preparation for the 2016 Olympics.”
Would Yang like to play on the team? “It would definitely be a dream come true. If I could participate as a golfer, as an athlete, I would be more than welcome and open to that concept. If not, I would really still want to be part of it as a coach or a general manager of the national team.”
Discussing whether the announcement on October 9th put additional pressure on teams competing in an event like the OMEGA Mission Hills World Cup of Golf to perform well on the international stage, China’s Liang Wen-chong said, “We all love to play golf and it is not pressure. I think that the Olympic story was a positive motivation.”
One of the competitors at Mission Hills who, given his age and ability, who would seem to have a particularly strong chance of competing at the 2016 Olympic Games, is Ireland’s 20-year-old Rory McIlroy, who said, “I think golf’s inclusion in the Olympic Games has already been great for the sport. It’s a breakthrough because it will bring this sport to so many more people throughout the world where it may not necessarily have been before.” McIlroy added with a wry smile, “And it would be a great honour to play in the Olympics one day – for whoever that may be.”
OMEGA’s president Stephen Urquhart is delighted that golf has been added to the roster of Olympic sports. He said, “Golf is played at a high level by countries all over the world as this tournament has always demonstrated. It is perfectly suited for inclusion in the world’s most prestigious sporting event. All of us at OMEGA are pleased that we’ll be able to welcome our friends from the international golfing community to the Olympic Games in 2016.”
OMEGA president Urquhart’s point about the quality of golf played around the world was dramatically underscored by the fact that five continents were represented among the top ten finishers at the OMEGA Mission Hills World Cup.
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