Arnold Palmer says the future of golf lies in the Olympics


Golf legend Arnold Palmer said Friday that he believes the future growth of the sport lies in how it’s embraced internationally by Olympics fans.

“As the Olympics cast their influence on the world with golf becoming an Olympic sport it is going to have a great affect on the game,” Palmer told Reuters during his tournament at Bay Hill.

“International golf is going to become a bigger factor as time goes on than it is now and I think that we as a nation and the [U.S.] are going to have to take a look at the international aspects of golf.”

To be fair, twelve nations are represented in the top forty spots in the World Golf Rankings, but to be just as fair, another 19 are from the States. Palmer added that he would have loved the opportunity to play in the Games (which haven’t been contested since St. Louis in 1904), but that he’s at least a little concerned with the recent delays in course construction down in Rio.

“I am still little nervous about the Olympics and how that will transpire in 2016 simply because they are a little behind the gun already and they are going to have to pick up pretty quickly. It takes a little time to build a golf course and takes a little more time for it to mature into a championship type golf course.”

The Gil Hanse-designed course broke ground earlier this week after a six month land dispute.

USA Hockey, women’s national team strike deal, avoid worlds boycott

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USA Hockey and its women’s national team struck a deal to avoid a world championship boycott over a wage dispute, three days before the tournament starts.

Both sides confirmed a new, four-year contract was agreed to Tuesday evening.

“Our sport is the big winner today,” U.S. captain Meghan Duggan said in a press release. “We stood up for what we thought was right, and USA Hockey’s leadership listened. In the end, both sides came together. I’m proud of my teammates and can’t thank everyone who supported us enough. It’s time now to turn the page. We can’t wait to play in the World Championship later this week in front of our fans as we try and defend our gold medal.”

Earlier in the day, a four-year contract was set to be voted on by players, but it was held up for hours in the afternoon by an unforeseen contract-language snag, according to a source close to the situation.

The 23-player roster said March 15 that it would boycott the world championship in Plymouth, Mich., unless significant progress was made over “fair wages and equitable support” in negotiations that began 15 months earlier.

Now, the team is set to play its worlds group-play opener with rival Canada on Friday. The U.S. will hold its first practice Thursday.

“Financially, there was some compromise involved, but I think in the big picture it was a really good thing for women’s hockey,” USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean said by phone, while refusing to discuss financial specifics. “A lot of good things were resolved to their satisfaction. It’s a really good foundation to move forward, four years without distractions to hopefully maintain our position as the No. 1 team in the world.”

The national team sought a new contract with USA Hockey that would pay top players throughout the four-year Olympic cycle, in addition to other items including more resources allocated toward women’s program development.

USA Hockey offered this on deal specifics:

The agreement includes the formation of a Women’s High Performance Advisory Group of former and current players from the U.S. Women’s National Team program, along with volunteer and staff leadership, to meet regularly to assist USA Hockey in efforts to advance girls’ and women’s hockey in all areas, including programming, marketing, promotion and fundraising. That is in addition to the focus on the grassroots hockey areas that volunteers of USA Hockey’s Girls’ and Women’s Section have been involved with for almost 30 years.

An emergency USA Hockey board of directors meeting was held Monday to discuss the matter, but neither side commented on negotiations that evening.

The two sides previously met last Monday for more than 10 hours, talks that both sides called productive. But USA Hockey proceeded to postpone its training camp, cancel its scheduled exhibition with Finland last Friday and start looking for replacement players through the weekend. It made a counter offer to the national team on Thursday that was rejected.

Dozens of players from around the country — post-collegiate, collegiate and high school — posted on social media that they turned down USA Hockey invitations to possibly be on a replacement team for worlds should the original team stick with its boycott.

Previously, USA Hockey’s compensation was awarded exclusively during the six-month Olympic period, while regular monthly stipends came from the U.S. Olympic Committee.

“We are asking for a living wage and for USA Hockey to fully support its programs for women and girls and stop treating us like an afterthought,” Duggan said in a press release on March 15. “We have represented our country with dignity and deserve to be treated with fairness and respect.”

Support grew for the national-team last week, with messages of solidarity from the players’ associations for MLB, NBA, NFL and the NHL.

On Monday, 16 U.S. Senators called on USA Hockey to “resolve this dispute quickly” to ensure the team receives equitable resources.

The U.S. seeks its first world title on home ice and its fourth straight world title overall, which would be its best streak in worlds history (dating to 1990). Canada has won the last three Olympic titles.

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U.S. skier Laurenne Ross out months with knee injury

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Laurenne Ross, the second-best U.S. speed racer behind Lindsey Vonn the last two years, suffered a right knee injury in a U.S. Championships crash on Monday and won’t be able to ski for at least two months, according to her social media.

“Further analysis is required to figure out exactly what is wrong, but I will not be skiing for at least the next couple months,” was posted on Ross’ Instagram. “I will keep you all updated when the time comes.”

Ross, 28, had a promising season, with seven World Cup top-10 finishes. She was fifth in the world championships downhill and fourth in the Olympic test event downhill in South Korea.

Ross has come back from injury before — a fractured pelvis in December 2006, a torn left ACL in 2008, at least five left shoulder dislocations and multiple broken fingers.

She made her first Olympic team in Sochi, where she was 11th in the downhill.

“I had many ups and downs, but am so thankful to have made it this far in my career with all the love and support that surrounds me,” was posted on Ross’ Instagram. “I will tack this on to my list of injuries, move on, and come back stronger.”

Ross is the second U.S. speed racer to suffer major injury in a crash this month. Breezy Johnson suffered a tibial plateau fracture in her left leg in the World Cup Finals downhill.

Ross, Vonn and Johnson, plus four-time Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso and World Cup podium finishers Stacey Cook and Jacqueline Wiles will likely all be vying for Olympic downhill places next season. Mikaela Shiffrin could try, too.

A nation can enter no more than four women per race at the Olympics.

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MORE: Mikaela Shiffrin eyes speed events in 2018

After a fun and wonderful season I am so sad to announce that yesterday, at US Nationals, I sustained an injury to my right knee. Further analysis is required to figure out exactly what is wrong, but I will not be skiing for at least the next couple months. I will keep you all updated when the time comes. I crossed so many finish lines this year — some with a smile and some without — but as I look back I can breathe deeply, because I have no regrets. It was a season for learning, for friendship, and for ambition. I had many ups and downs, but am so thankful to have made it this far in my career with all the love and support that surrounds me. I will tack this on to my list of injuries, move on, and come back stronger. I can't wait to step up to the challenges that lay ahead of me, and I couldn't do it without all of your support. Thank-you so much for being there, through thick and through thin, through the wins, the losses, the injuries, and the joy 🙏 I will be back 👊

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