The PGA Tour is trying to hold a test event on March 8 for the new course in Rio de Janeiro, and is even offering charter-flight transportation for participants. But scheduling conflicts has many Tour players turning down the opportunity.
With golf joining the Olympics for the first time since 1904, the PGA Tour is trying to put together a test event on March 8 for the new course in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Associated Press reported. But the Tour is having a tough time finding anyone to go because of the crowded 2016 schedule.
“We’ve got a good list of players who are, quote, interested in coming,” PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said. “But we don’t have a long list of players who are committed to coming. That’s the case with the guys who are currently playing on the PGA Tour, just because of the schedule, looking ahead to the summer, seeing the compaction. So I don’t know.”
The tour has even lined up a charter flight for its members to provide transportation to and from the event, the AP reported.
Every sport must have an event at the Olympic venue ahead of the Rio Games, the AP reported, and Finchem said if golf can pull together this outing, it will count as the test event.
“We can do that with any combination of players who are being talked to,” he said. “Also, I think it’s probably most important to get international players. We don’t know how it’s going to wind up. We’ve got transportation issues and a sponsor the next week that’s watching and saying, `Am I going to lose anybody?'”
The World Golf Championship at Trump National Doral in Miami ends on March 6 and is followed by the Valspar Championship, where Jordan Spieth is the defending champion. Spieth’s agent, Jay Danzi, said the tour approached Spieth about a trip to Rio, but he didn’t want it to interfere with his title defense at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Palm Harbor, Fla., the AP reported.
The European Tour and Asian Tour have a co-sanctioned event in Thailand that week, the AP reported, and while the LPGA Tour is off, its best players will be in Singapore on March 6 for the HSBC Women’s Champions tournament.
British Open champion Zach Johnson said he was asked, but his foundation has a retreat that week. Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler also were approached and decided against a flight to Brazil. It’s a month before the Masters tournament, the AP noted, with tournaments like the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Dell Match Play and Shell Houston Open leading up to the Masters.
Finchem is eager to have the test event, the AP reported, and not just so he can tick that box off his to-do list.
“We want to get some good players on there so if there are things we’re not seeing … you know as well I do, we build these golf courses and `Oh, it’s great.’ And then you get the best players in the world on there and we’ve got 10 problems,” he said. “They see things you didn’t notice. So we want to get that done.”
Finchem also described the Gil Hanse-designed course as having a “hangover” from environmental protests and legal challenges (http://clubandresortbusiness.com/2014/12/01/olympic-golf-course-developer-wins-legal-battle/) that have delayed the project.
“We want to get the word out that it’s a good golf course,” Finchem said.