Reigning Masters champion Trevor Immelman insists that there is no place for golf at the Olympic Games.
The South African also believes that fellow mega-money sports such as basketball and tennis should be shown the Olympics exit door because they are alien to the basic principles the Games.
”I don’t think golf should be an Olympic sport,” said Immelman, who is here this week to try and win his second major of the year at the 90th PGA Championship.
”I don’t think basketball should be an Olympic sport. I don’t think tennis should be an Olympic sport. To me the Olympics were founded on amateur sport. Guys go in there and train for four years putting their whole lives on the line to win a gold medal.”
PGA Tour executive Ty Votaw was appointed last month to lead an effort to have golf included in the 2016 Summer Olympics.
But the outspoken Immelman thinks money-driven sports should be kept out of the showpiece, the latest edition of which starts in Beijing on Friday.
”If I was running the Olympics I would go back to the way it was originally,” he said. ”Gymnastics, weightlifting, swimming and track and field and marathons. That’s to me what the Olympics is.
”It is not about tennis or golf or anything like that.
”Those are three sports where guys are getting paid a lot of money to play and compete week in and week out. It is so professional.”
Immelman’s high ideals aren’t shared by everyone on the PGA Tour.
”I think having golf an Olympic sport is exponentially more important to the game of golf than the majors,” said America’s Phil Mickelson.
”And the reason for that is it would bring 168 different countries and their Olympic foundation and the revenues that would be going towards the growth of the game of golf.
”They Olympics would bring us to new markets on a worldwide scale and I can’t imagine how big the game can become in countries like China and India.”
Jim Furyk agrees with his compatriot but thinks participation should be restricted to amateur golfers.
”I would like to see golf in the Olympics,” Furyk said. ”Just because I think it is a worldwide sport.
”I think the criticism is that not enough countries play it. But I think it is played all around the world and we have so many great players from around the world.
”So if it was for our amateur golfers I think it would be great. For our professional golfers I am hesitant. But I still would like to see golf in the Olympics.” – AFP