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Tim Finchem eyes change to Olympic golf in 2020

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Tim Finchem will step down as PGA Tour commissioner in the coming months, but he would like to see Olympic golf look different in Tokyo than it did in Rio.

“We may want to do some tweaking to the format,” Finchem said Tuesday. “It would be nice to have some more medals in my view, but that will be something that [commissioner-in-waiting] Jay [Monahan] and the team will work on going forward.”

Finchem, an International Golf Federation board member, did not elaborate on potential tweaks.

The format for Olympic golf has been debated since before it was re-added to the Olympics in 2009. In Rio, it was an individual, 72-hole stroke-play event for each gender. Some have called for a team event.

Golf’s future in the Olympics is not guaranteed past Tokyo 2020.

That in mind, Finchem relayed his conversation with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach while they both attended the final round of the men’s tournament in Rio on Aug. 14.

“[Bach] was blown away,” Finchem said. “I think we were the only sport with a sold-out venue that particular day. He was blown away by the galleries. Without me having to explain the situation to him, he explained to me why at the outset of our entry to the Olympics, we had some hesitation. 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 the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“We played the World Cup [of Golf] there [in Gotemba, Japan] in 2001, and if you just look at the footage, thousands and thousands and thousands of people came out,” Finchem said. “So It’s going to be a big event in Japan, and I think golf is there [in the Olympics] for the long-term.”

Finchem noted one of the biggest concerns, that several top men’s players skipped the event, but added that some of them said afterward they thought the Olympics were a success.

“Just ask the players who did go,” Finchem said. “It was a game-changer in their minds.”

MORE: Rory McIlroy: I was wrong about Olympic golf

Weekend Gymnastics Roundup: Carey and McCusker on World Cup podium

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World medalists Jade Carey and Riley McCusker headlined gymnastics action over the weekend as the World Cup circuit continued with an all-around competition in Birmingham, England, and an apparatus event in Doha, Qatar.

Carey won both the vault and floor events in Doha, pushing her to the top of the standings on both apparatus (she also won the vault and floor competitions the previous weekend at the World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan).

Doha marked the halfway point of apparatus World Cups, putting Carey in a promising position to qualify for the Tokyo Games heading into the next four events. The apparatus World Cup series includes a total of eight competitions spread over two seasons, and one gymnast per apparatus will qualify for the Olympics based on his or her top three results across the eight events.

Carey, 18, was the 2017 world silver medalist on vault and floor. But she opted not to try for a spot on the 2018 World Championships team due to the International Gymnastics Federation’s rules that active team members who help their countries qualify team spots for Tokyo (as the U.S. women did in November) cannot earn individual spots. Carey, an apparatus specialist rather than an all-around gymnast, chose the World Cup route to keep open her options of qualifying individually.

McCusker, who was part of the U.S. team that won the world title last year, finished second at the all-around World Cup in Birmingham, posting the top scores on the uneven bars and floor. Russia’s Aliya Mustafina, a seven-time Olympic medalist, won the event. Mustafina bounced back from a shaky showing last weekend at the World Cup in Stuttgart, where she finished fifth in an event won by Simone Biles. Mustafina, 24, is trying to qualify for her third Olympics after giving birth to daughter Alisa in June 2017.

The all-around World Cup circuit continues on April 7 in Tokyo, Japan, where two-time world all-around medalist Morgan Hurd and two-time Olympian Sam Mikulak are expected to compete.

First Olympic women’s aerials champion Cheryazova dies at 50

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MOSCOW — Lina Cheryazova, the first woman to win an Olympic aerials skiing gold medal, has died. She was 50.

Officials in the Russian city of Novosibirsk, where Cheryazova was living for the last two decades, said she died “following a lengthy illness,” without giving further details.

Competing for Uzbekistan, Cheryazova won gold with a triple flip when aerials skiing debuted on the Olympic program in 1994 in Lillehammer.

Shortly after winning, she learned her mother died three weeks before.

Cheryazova’s career was derailed later that year when she suffered a serious head injury while training in the United States, and spent days in a coma. She retired after failing to qualify for the 1998 Winter Olympics.