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.”

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