By the time golf makes its triumphant Olympic return at the 2016 Rio Games it will have been on hiatus for 112 years. But with the sport’s recent exponential growth worldwide, now seems a perfect time to add it back on to the schedule.
In related news, Turkey decided to point out how great an Olympic host it would be with two major golf events in the weeks following the Ryder Cup. First, the World Golf Amateur Team Championship, which brought in 72 teams from around the world. Next the World Golf Finals, with appearances by one-name-is-enough athletes Tiger and Rory.
Now the country’s golf organization has announced that it will host the first ever Turkish Golf Open next November, which will bring in the sport’s top names and award $7 million in prize money.
This seems far from coincidental considering Instanbul’s Olympic bid, especially as golf has grown to become the eighth most popular world sport with an estimated 450 million fans. Peter Dawson, president of the International Golf Federation, told the AP that an “emphasis on the Olympics” is very evident.
“The interest is there,” Dawson said following the IGF biennial meeting. “It’s amazing that in these countries they think of Olympic sports, instead of golf as its own sport. It’s certainly starting to serve to grow the game.”
Yes, this year’s World Golf Amateur Team Championship was the first time the event has hosted a full 72-team field, and even had a waiting list that included Saudi Arabia, Mauritius, Namibia and Lebanon… but is the worldwide demand because of the Olympics or is golf in the Olympics because of the worldwide demand?
Those in Turkey don’t seem to care what the order is, but they’re pushing hard and making sure everyone takes notice: Turkey is a golf destination now, and maybe an Olympics destination sooner rather than later.
Christie Rampone, the 40-year-old captain of the 2015 U.S. Women’s World Cup team, has yet to return to full fitness after December knee surgery and pulled out of a U.S. camp ahead of two pre-Olympic friendlies in June.
Her bid for a fifth Olympics, and to become the oldest U.S. Olympic soccer player of all time, is in danger.
The camp begins Friday. The friendlies against rival Japan (which failed to qualify for Rio) are June 2 and June 5.
“I don’t feel 100 percent healthy enough to train and compete at that level,” Rampone said in a press release Tuesday. “I’ve been able to manage myself and contribute to Sky Blue [her club team] this season, which I will continue to do, but I also have an understanding of the level of fitness and health needed to push for an Olympic roster spot, and I know I’m not there right now. It’s not the right choice for myself or the team to put myself in that environment.”
Rampone, a defender, hasn’t played for the U.S. since her December arthroscopic knee surgery. At the 2015 Women’s World Cup, she played a total of 14 minutes.
The U.S. national team is currently without nine players from the 23-player World Cup team, though some are expected back for the Olympics, but only one of the missing other than Rampone is a defender (the retired Lori Chalupny).
The U.S. Olympic women’s soccer team for London was named in May 2012, but the Rio roster of 18 players is expected to be announced by early July.
VIDEO: Hope Solo ‘begrudgingly’ going to Rio Olympics
NBC Olympics and Fandango partnered for Fandango’s “I Love Movies: Rio Olympic Edition,” featuring swimming gold medalists Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin and Matt Grevers, among other Olympians and Paralympians.
Leading up to the Rio Games, NBC Olympics and Fandango plan to release episodes with dozens of athletes from gymnastics, track and field, diving, basketball rugby and Paralympic events.
Watch Lochte’s short film above and Franklin and Grevers reveal their favorite movies below.
Lochte, Franklin and Grevers will look to qualify for the Rio Olympics at the Olympic Trials in Omaha from June 26-July 3, with broadcast coverage on NBC Sports.
MORE: Full NBC Olympic trials broadcast schedule