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

Kelly Cheng, Sara Hughes, beach volleyball’s new sensation, win World Tour Finals

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In just a few months since reuniting, Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes have become not just the best women’s beach volleyball team in the U.S., but also, arguably, the world.

Cheng and Hughes, former partners who got back together for a 2024 Olympic run, won the World Tour Finals for the biggest title for a U.S. pair since April Ross and Alix Klineman took gold in Tokyo.

The 27-year-old Californians swept reigning world champions Duda and Ana Patricia of Brazil 21-18, 21-16 in Sunday’s final in Doha.

Cheng and Hughes have entered four tournaments since reuniting last fall and won all of them — once on the domestic AVP tour and now three international events.

They are rolling into the start of the 2024 Olympic qualifying window next week. It’s likely that the top two U.S. women’s pairs across international events over the course of the next 18 months qualify for the Paris Games.

Cheng and Hughes were previously NCAA champion teammates at USC, then the most promising, young U.S. pro team before splitting in 2018. Cheng made the Tokyo Olympics with Sarah Sponcil (lost in the round of 16), while Hughes’ Tokyo bid flamed out when partner Summer Ross suffered a back injury in 2019.

“It was a lot of the unknown and being young and kind of immature and listening to maybe outside forces and not really knowing how to deal with things as well,” Hughes said in October of their past breakup. “We’ve pretty much moved past that in our relationship. Moving forward with one another, we’re completely different players, and we’re a lot more mature. It feels like the right time. The past is past. We’re just moving forward.”

Cheng and Hughes have taken over from April Ross and Klineman as the top U.S. team. After winning Olympic gold, Klineman underwent shoulder surgery in January 2022 and last week announced she is pregnant and may return from childbirth for a “last-second” 2024 Olympic qualifying bid.

April Ross, a 40-year-old with an Olympic medal of every color, last competed in March, then withdrew before June’s world championships, where she was entered with Emily Day, with an unspecified injury. She has not announced if or when she plans to return to competition.

The U.S. earned at least one beach volleyball medal at every Olympics that the sport has been on the program (since 1996), and a men’s or women’s gold at all but one Olympics. Eighteen months out from the Paris Games, Cheng and Hughes are the best hope to keep the podium streak going.

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Germany opens bobsled worlds with double gold; Kaillie Humphries gets silver

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Germans Laura Nolte and Johannes Lochner dethroned the reigning Olympic and world champions to open the world bobsled championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, this weekend.

Nolte, the Olympic two-woman champion driver, won the four-run monobob by four tenths of a second over American Kaillie Humphries, who won the first world title in the event in 2021 and the first Olympic title in the event in 2022. Another German, Lisa Buckwitz, took bronze.

In the two-man, Lochner became the first driver to beat countryman Francesco Friedrich in an Olympic or world championships event since 2016, ending Friedrich’s record 12-event streak at global championships between two-man and four-man.

Friedrich, defeated by 49 hundredths, saw his streak of seven consecutive world two-man titles also snapped.

Lochner, 32, won his first outright global title after seven Olympic or world silvers, plus a shared four-man gold with Friedrich in 2017.

Swiss Michael Vogt drove to bronze, one hundredth behind Friedrich. Geoff Gadbois and Martin Christofferson filled the top American sled in 18th.

Americans Steven Holcomb and Steven Langton were the last non-Germans to win a world two-man title in 2012.

Bobsled worlds finish next weekend with the two-woman and four-man events.

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