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After stars’ worry, Olympic golf to stay

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Golf was recommended by the IOC executive board to remain on the Olympic program through 2024, along with all sports from the Rio Games.

Golf’s place at the 2024 Olympics — either in Los Angeles or Paris — is set to be ratified by an IOC membership vote later this summer.

Golf was re-added to the Olympics in 2009, but only for 2016 and 2020. When golfers played in Rio, it marked the first Olympic tournaments in 112 years.

Olympic golf had its skeptics leading up to the Games as many men’s stars decided not to play for various reasons, including Jordan SpiethRory McIlroy and Jason Day.

“Because of how [Olympic golf is] being approached in golf circles … I’m not sure if we’re going to have another opportunity to win a gold medal after [Tokyo 2020],” McIlroy said in May 2016.

Both Adam Scott and Gary Player said before Rio they believed Olympic golf should be for amateurs only.

“We’ve got to remember that a lot of people in golf across the world worked extremely hard to get golf back into the Olympics, and if the top players don’t play, we could get kicked out of the Olympics,” Player said in April 2016.

Then-PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said after the Rio Games that golf’s return to the Olympics was “a game-changer.” He was at the men’s final round with IOC president Thomas Bach in August and said Bach “was blown away.”

“Without me having to explain the situation to him, [Bach] explained to me why at the outset of our entry to the Olympics, we had some hesitation,” Finchem said. “He said, ‘We’ve seen it in a few other sports, but now they understand the power of being an Olympian, of being able to compete on this stage, of being able to interface with these wonderful athletes from all over the globe.’”

Bach said to “expect mammoth galleries” at Tokyo 2020.

Paris is favored to be awarded the 2024 Olympics. Its venue plan has golf at Le Golf National, which will host the 2018 Ryder Cup.

The Los Angeles 2024 Olympic bid plan has golf at Riviera Country Club, which has hosted the PGA Tour stop in Los Angeles for more than 50 years. Riviera also held equestrian events at the 1932 Los Angeles Games, as noted by Olympic historian Bill Mallon.

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Where does Sergio Garcia rank among Spain’s best Olympians?

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Miguel IndurainRafael Nadal. Soccer star after soccer star after soccer star.

Sergio Garcia added to Spain’s rich (recent) sporting history with his long-awaited first major title at the Masters on Sunday.

Spain sports daily Marca ranked Garcia’s Masters win the No. 92 moment in Spanish sports history.

Nos. 1-3 were Spain winning the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the Spanish men’s basketball team winning the 2006 FIBA World Championship and Nadal’s epic 2008 Wimbledon win over Roger Federer.

Garcia certainly makes the list of Spain’s greatest Olympians, too. He tied for eighth in Rio at the first Olympic golf tournament since 1904. (Golf’s longtime absence from the Olympics meant Garcia’s Spanish idol, five-time major winner Seve Ballesteros, never got a chance to play at the Games)

Garcia would likely have to return for Tokyo 2020 — and at the very least earn a medal — to challenge the accomplishments of those in other sports named above.

The cyclist Indurain won seven Grand Tour titles, including five Tours de France, and a 1996 Olympic time trial gold medal. Alberto Contador also owns seven Grand Tour titles, with at least two titles from all three Grand Tours, but has only finished one Olympic race — fourth in the 2008 time trial.

Nadal is at 14 Grand Slam singles titles, plus that 2008 Olympic singles gold medal.

Like Garcia, some of Spain’s soccer legends never won Olympic gold — 2010 World Cup winners Iker Casillas and Andres Iniesta among them (Casillas and Iniesta never played in the Olympics, as soccer is largely an under-23 affair at the Games). Xavi and Carles Puyol were on the 2000 Olympic silver-medal-winning team.

Pau Gasol led that 2006 World Cup-winning team revered on Marca‘s list. That roster received the good fortune of the U.S. being upset by Greece in the opposite semifinal. Still, Gasol is a three-time Olympic medalist who has been among the most loyal NBA stars to his national team.

Not to be forgotten is sprint canoeist David Cal, who owns a Spanish record five Olympic medals combined from 2004, 2008 and 2012.

One more athlete that deserves mention is a Winter Olympian. Figure skater Javier Fernandez won the 2015 and 2016 World titles and next year could win Spain’s first Winter Olympic medal since 1992.

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2020 Olympic golf course changes membership policy

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TOKYO (AP) — The course that will host the 2020 Olympic golf tournament has decided to change its membership policy to include women.

The Kasumigaseki Country Club said Monday its executive board decided on the change after discussions among its members. The membership policy came under scrutiny when Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike urged it to admit women as full members.

Other critics said the club’s policy was contrary to the spirit of the Olympics.

Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, welcomed the change.

“I’d like to extend my gratitude to the members of the club for their understanding and cooperation,” Mori said in a statement.

The club’s policy had excluded women from full-fledged membership but not from playing or other types of membership.

Founded in 1929 as a private club, Kasumigaseki is one of Japan’s oldest and most prestigious golf clubs. Within a few years of its opening, the club started allowing female players. Some Japanese clubs still bar women from playing.

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