Golf's Olympic champions to receive an exemption for 2017 Majors

The sport is to return to the Olympics this summer for the first time since 194

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A worker cuts the grass on the Olympic Golf course in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Golf's return to the Olympics has seen another incentive added for players. The winners of the men's and women's tournaments will be guaranteed a place in each of 2017's major championships. 

The announcement was made on Monday evening at Augusta ahead of the Masters. Members of the R&A, PGA of America, USGA and the Masters were all in attendance to release the news.

60 men and women will compete in the events, one week apart at the Olympic Golf Course in the south of Rio de Janeiro. The men's event will be the first to conclude, on August 14th. 

 

The women’s exemptions begin with the 2016 Evian Championship, which takes place in September. In 2017, it includes the ANA Inspiration, PGA Championship, US Open and British Open.

A one-year exemption is seen by many as too short, but the USGA Executive Director Mike Davis feels an Olympic win does not compare to a Major championship. "To position the achievement of winning a gold medal above or below the status of a major championship does every competition a disservice. Our analysis of the competition makes us believe that an invitation to the gold medalist for one year is very appropriate."

Canada's George Lyon will be replaced as Olympic champion in August. The 1904 winner has been the reigning Olympic champion for more than a century. The women's game has never graced the Olympic Games.