Rio golf winners to get major entries

Jordan Spieth

The exemption would be unlikely to benefit world-leading players such as 2015 Masters champion Jordan Spieth

Gold medal-winning golfers at the Olympic Games in Rio will win exemptions to next year’s majors.

It means the men’s winner this summer will win entry to next year’s Masters, US Open, Open and US PGA Championship.

Exemptions for the 2016 Evian Championship and next year’s ANA Inspiration, Women’s PGA Championship, US Women’s Open and Women’s Open will be given to the winning woman.

Golf is returning to the Olympics in August for the first time in 112 years.

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The announcement was made by the tournaments’ organising bodies before this week’s Masters, the first men’s major of the year, and the day after the first women’s major of the year, the ANA Inspiration, was won by New Zealand teenager Lydia Ko.

Masters chairman Billy Payne told a news conference at Augusta National: “We believe our game’s visibility will be dramatically elevated by the global platform that only the Olympics offer.

“From this greater visibility, we believe will evolve greater participation in our game, and it will be a certain beneficiary.”

While some of the world’s top players would already hold exemptions to the majors, Pete Bevacqua, the chief executive officer of the PGA of America, said: “From our perspective, whether it’s someone that is in the top rankings of the world or someone who is that Cinderella story, in both ways it’s a positive.”

USGA executive director Mike Davis added: “The idea is that if you’re good enough to win that gold medal, and it only happens once every four years, we want you in our national championships.”

Exemptions for major tournaments can be achieved in a variety of ways, such as being a previous winner, while world rankings can also play a part.

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