Lausanne, April 5 (IANS) The International Golf Federation has announced that gold medallists at the Rio 2016 Olympics will earn exempt status into 2017’s major championships.
“The men’s winner will secure an invite to the Masters Tournament, the US Open, The Open and the PGA Championship in 2017, while the women’s gold medallist will earn an exemption into the Evian Championship in 2016, and the ANA Inspiration, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the US Women’s Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2017,” RGF said in a statement on Monday.
With four months left to go until the sport returns to the Olympic programme for the first time since 1904, officials from golf’s leading organisations came together at the Masters to make the announcement in Augusta, Georgia.
“We collaborate on many initiatives designed to showcase and to grow the great game of golf,” Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said.
“As we represent so many of the championships in our sport, we thought it would be important and timely to come together today in a total and unanimous support for Olympic golf.”
Joining Payne at Augusta National was Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, Pete Bevacqua, CEO of the PGA of America, and Mike Davis, executive director of the USGA.
“All of us at The R&A are looking forward to seeing our great players join the finest athletes in the world, and it undoubtedly provides an unparalleled opportunity to grow golf globally,” said Slumbers, who confirmed the exemptions into The Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
Mike Whan, Commissioner of the Ladies Professional Golfers’ Association (LPGA), said: “Having the male and female gold medallists exempt into major championship fields is not only great for the game worldwide, but shows our support for this year’s game in Rio and golf’s involvement in the future Games to come.”
Asian Tour also welcomed the move that will “provide added incentive and reward for golfers to shoot for gold”.
“The Asian Tour believes this decision will provide a positive boost for the development of the game around the world particularly in Asia,” Asian Tour commissioner Kyi Hla Han said.
The silver and bronze medallists in the men’s competition will also earn exemptions into sectional qualifying for the 2017 US Open.
The men’s and women’s golf competitions will each feature a field of 60 golfers competing in a 72-hole stroke-play event. The men’s competition will take place August 11-14 and the women’s competition from August 17-20.