Augusta, United States: Gold medallists in the Olympic Games will receive a one-year exemption into golf’s Major championships.
The men’s champion in Rio will be exempt into the Masters, US Open, Open Championship and US PGA Championship in 2017, while the women’s exemption begins with the 2016 Evian Championship and includes the ANA Inspiration, Women’s PGA Championship, US Women’s Open and Women’s British Open in 2017.
The Masters chairman, Billy Payne, told a press conference at Augusta National: “We believe our game’s visibility will be dramatically elevated by the global platform that only the Olympics offer.
“New audiences from all over the world, some for the very first time ever, will be exposed to our great sport and come to know and appreciate the amazing athletes and heroes in golf. From this greater visibility, we believe, will evolve greater participation in our game, and it will be a certain beneficiary.”
Kyi Hla Han, Commissioner of the Asian Tour, said: “The Asian Tour is delighted with the joint announcement by the four Major Championship bodies who have agreed to provide exemptions into the Majors for the 2016 Olympic gold medallists.
“With over 10 male Asian golfers currently poised to qualify for Rio de Janeiro, this decision will provide added incentive and reward for golfers to shoot for gold when golf makes a long awaited return to the Olympics.
“The Asian Tour believes this decision will provide a positive boost for the development of the game around the world particularly in Asia.”
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “The European Tour has a history of helping develop the game throughout the world and providing a platform for players from all countries to cultivate their careers, which is why we were fully supportive of the return of golf to the Olympics.
“It was a momentous decision for our sport and, therefore, to mark it in this fashion is entirely appropriate. We congratulate the Major Championship bodies in both the men’s and women’s games on creating such an eligibility category, a move which will add further glory for those players lucky enough to win gold in Rio de Janeiro in August.”