Mickelson, Furyk say golf in Olympics would be good for growth of game

8/6/2008 - Golf

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- If it were up to Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk, golfers would be going for the gold.

"Having golf an Olympic sport is exponentially more important to the game of golf than the majors," Mickelson said Tuesday from the site of the season's final major, the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills. "The reason for that is it would bring in 168 different countries and their Olympic foundation and all those revenues and that would be going towards the growth of the game."

Mickelson said Olympic golf would get increased exposure around the globe, reaching people who may not watch the sport now.

"The majors are incredibly big as we know, but we still capture the same audience that [is] already interested in the game," he said.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, European Tour chief George O'Grady, LPGA Tour commissioner Carolyn Bivens, USGA executive director David Fay and Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson met in May with IOC president Jacques Rogge, making the case for golf in the Games.

"It's for growing the game around the world and something we can all do together," Finchem said at the time. "The value for the players is that the more people that play around the world, the more people will be watching. They'll be paid back eventually."

Mickelson said scheduling wouldn't be a problem .

"It's only once every four years," he said. "It's not a big disruption by any means."

The earliest that we could see the sport in the Olympics would be 2016. Mickelson and Furyk would both be 46 then, Tiger Woods would be 40.

Furyk drew a distinction between pros and amateurs competing.

"I want to watch the [Olympic sports] where basically professionals aren't playing," he said. "Where that is the absolute pinnacle of their career and they had to wait four years for this one moment and they go out and they perform -- break a world record, win a gold medal and they were able to perform on the spot."