The winners of the men’s and women’s gold medals in golf at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will earn exempt status into golf’s major championships.
The men’s winner will secure an invite to the Masters Tournament, the US Open, The Open and the PGA Championship in 2017, while the women’s gold medalist will earn an exemption into the Evian Championship in 2016, and the ANA Inspiration, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the US Women’s Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2017.
With four months left to go until the sport returns to the Olympic programme for the first time since 1904, officials from golf’s leading organisations came together at The Masters to make the announcement.
“We collaborate on many initiatives designed to showcase and to grow the great game of golf,” Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne said. “As we represent so many of the championships in our sport, we thought it would be important and timely to come together today in a total and unanimous support for Olympic golf.”
Joining Mr Payne at Augusta National was Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, Pete Bevacqua, CEO of the PGA of America, and Mike Davis, Executive Director of the USGA.
“All of us at The R&A are looking forward to seeing our great players join the finest athletes in the world, and it undoubtedly provides an unparalleled opportunity to grow golf globally,” said Slumbers, who confirmed the exemptions into The Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
Mike Whan, Commissioner of the LPGA, said: “Having the male and female gold medalist exempt into major championship fields is not only great for the game worldwide, but shows our support for this year's game in Rio and golf's involvement in the future Games to come."
The silver and bronze medalists in the men’s competition will also earn exemptions into sectional qualifying for the 2017 US Open.
The men’s and women’s golf competitions will each feature a field of 60 golfers competing in a 72-hole stroke-play event. The men’s competition will be held Aug. 11-14 and the women’s competition from Aug. 17-20.