124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

Woods and Harrington provide an Olympic endorsement

August 11, 2009

CHASKA, Minn. -- The winners of the last three PGA Championships held back-to-back press conferences Tuesday at Hazeltine National. So what did the hungry hordes of reporters want to know about? Perhaps the most interesting responses came when each was asked about golf possibly being included in the 2016 Olympics. "If I'm not retired by then, yeah," said Tiger Woods, who would be 40 at the time of the 2016 Summer Games, when asked if he would play if eligible. When pressed again if he would play, Woods acknowledged, "Yep." The remarks represented a shift for Woods who had previously been more noncommittal. "I'd love to be an Olympian," said defending champ Padraig Harrington. "Doesn't that sound good? Imagine us being Olympic athletes."

For that to happen, golf first has to get in the Games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board is slated to recommend a pair of sports to be added in 2016, with word expected to come Thursday. Although golf has not been part of the Olympics since 1904, it is considered among the favorites for inclusion. That would sit just fine with both Woods and Harrington, both of whom expressed solid rationale for adding golf to the Games. "I think golf is truly a global sport and I think it should have been in the Olympics a while ago," said Woods. If it does get in, I think it would be great for golf and especially some of the smaller countries that are now emerging in golf." Harrington not only touted the benefits to the game, but spoke of the natural fit between golf's sportsmanship and that of the Olympic games. "I think we have all the credentials to be Olympians," he said. "It seems like it was always destined to be an Olympic sport. I'm sure there are a lot of athletes out there that would never put golf as a sport, but trying to explain that to somebody that doesn't play golf, they will never understand what goes into golf. [But] golfers will see it as a natural sport for the Olympics." Seems like two of the game's premier players have their eyes on a pair of prizes this week: the Wanamaker Trophy and Olympic gold.Â

-- E. Michael Johnson