Opportunity for golf’s Olympic Gold championed by the Golden Bear

2017_08_04-Jack&OlympicFlag2Golf is among the 41 sports included in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and along with it comes a chance to grow the game worldwide—an initiative record 18-time professional major winner Jack Nicklaus helped champion.

Alongside the International Golf Federation in 2008, Nicklaus joined Annika Sorenstam to serve as Global Ambassadors for the movement, working in tandem with the Olympic Golf Committee and representing the effort at select international events in the year leading up to the IOC’s 121st Session in Copenhagen in October 2009. It was then that a vote was made in favor of reintroducing golf to the games.

Now—eight years after becoming an ambassador—the Golden Bear, 76, will see golf included in the Olympics for the first time in his lifetime. The games get underway in Rio after this Friday’s Opening Ceremonies. Men’s and women’s events will tee off over the next two weeks to crown the first Olympic Golf champions in 112 years.

“Golf is a perfect match with Olympic ideals,” Nicklaus said. “Golf’s inherent values embody the Olympic spirit of honesty, integrity, dignity and sportsmanship. Golf has become an international game with its international stars. Our athletes finally have the thrilling opportunity to represent their respective countries on the world’s grandest sports stage and it’s something that they will remember forever.”

Golf has only been on the Olympic program twice in the history of the games, in 1900 and 1904. At the 1900 games in Paris, two events were staged: one for men and one for women. Americans Margaret Ives Abbott and Charles Edward Sands were the first Olympic champions in the two events. In 1904 in St. Louis, the women’s event was replaced by a team event.

“The reintroduction of golf to the Olympics represents a tremendous opportunity for the growth of golf in countries where it’s a developing sport,” Nicklaus said—his perspective uniquely gleaned from a global competitive career that spanned parts of five decades in addition to his work as a golf course designer in 41 different countries.

“The Olympic games are a catalyst to ignite golf’s growth and identity as an Olympic sport which is tremendous for the game. And obviously to have the opportunity to represent the Olympic golf initiative with Annika was a true honor,” Nicklaus said.

After a successful campaign and beginning this week, 120 players representing 41 countries now have the chance to bring home Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals for their countries.

“As I reflect on my years of competitive golf, one of the most prized things that I had in my home was a medal display which included gold medals from the U.S. Amateur, from the U.S. Open, from tournaments on the Tour, from World Cups, and from other events. Those were all very, very prized to me. Money, you can take and spend, but a gold medal is something you keep forever and treasure the memory of it—it’s something to be very proud of. To represent your country in the Olympics and to win a gold medal for that is something that will probably grow stronger over time,” Nicklaus said.

“I think the Olympics will have a great impact on the game, particularly if golf stays in the Olympics. They’ve got to put on a good show, and it’s got to be a good event. If it is, it will help the game grow greatly around the world,” he added.

Full field lists of the men’s and women’s events are included below.

Men’s

Argentina— Fabian Gomez, Emiliano Grillo
Australia— Marcus Fraser, Scott Hend
Austria—Bernd Wiesberger
Bangladesh—Siddikur Rahman
Belgium—Nicolas Colsaerts, Thomas Pieters
Brazil—Adilson da Silva
Canada—Graham DeLaet, David Hearn
Chile—Felipe Aguilar
China—Wu Ashun, Hao Tong Li
Chinese Taipei— Wein-Tang Lin, Cheng Tsung Pan
Denmark—Soren Kjeldsen, Thorbjorn Olesen
Finland— Mikko Ilonen, Roope Kakko
France—Gregory Bourdy, Julien Quesne
Germany—Alex Cejka, Martin Kaymer
Great Britain— Justin Rose, Danny Willett
India—SSP Chawrasia, Anirban Lahiri
Ireland—Padraig Harrington, Seamus Power
Italy— Nino Bertasio, Matteo Manassero
Japan—Yuta Ikeda, Shingo Katayama
Republic of Korea—Byeong Hun An, Jeunghun Wang
Malaysia—Danny Chia, Gavin Kyle Green
Mexico—Rodolfo Cazaubon
Netherlands—Joost Luiten
New Zealand—Ryan Fox, Danny Lee
Norway—Espen Kofstad
Paraguay—Fabrizio Zanotti
Philippines—Miguel Tabuena
Portugal— Ricardo Gouveia, Jose-Filipe Lima
South Africa—Brandon Stone, Jaco Van Zyl
Spain— Rafa Cabrera Bello, Sergio Garcia
Sweden—David Lingmerth, Henrik Stenson
Thailand—Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Thongchai Jaidee
U.S.A.— Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson
Venezuela—Johonattan Vegas

Women’s

Austria—Christine Wolf
Australia—Minjee Lee, Su Oh
Belgium—Chloe Leurguin
Brazil—Miriam Nagl, Victoria Lovelady
Canada—Brooke Henderson, Alena Sharp
China—Shanshan Feng, Xi Yu Lin
Chinese Taipei—Teresa Lu, Candie Kung
Colombia—Mariajo Uribe
Czech Republic—Klara Spilkova
Denmark—Nicole Broch Larsen, Nanna Koerstz Madsen
Finland—Ursula Wikstrom, Noora Tamminen
France—Karine Icher, Gwladys Nocera
Germany—Sandra Gal, Caroline Masson
Great Britain—Charley Hull, Catriona Matthew
Hong Kong—Tiffany Chan
India—Aditi Ashok
Ireland—Stephanie Meadow, Leona Maguire
Israel—Laetitia Beck
Italy—Giulia Molinaro, Giulia Sergas
Japan—Haru Nomura, Shiho Oyama
Republic of Korea—Inbee Park, Sei Young Kim, Amy Yang, In Gee Chun
Malaysia—Kelly Tan, Michelle Koh
Mexico—Gaby Lopez, Alejandra Llaneza
Morocco—Maha Haddioui
Norway—Suzann Pettersen, Marianne Skarpnord
New Zealand—Lydia Ko
Paraguay—Julieta Granada
Russia—Maria Verchenova
South Africa—Paula Reto, Ashleigh Simon
Spain—Carlota Ciganda, Azahara Munoz
Switzerland—Albane Valenzuela, Fabienne In-Albon
Sweden—Anna Nordqvist, Pernilla Lindberg
Thailand—Ariva Jutanugarn, Pornanong Phatlum
U.S.A.—Lexi Thompson, Stacy Lewis, Gerina Piller