Padraig Harrington might have lost to Tiger Woods in Akron but he’s hoping he gets a chance to duel it out with the world number one for an Olympic gold medal.
Golf and rugby are the favourites among the seven sports vying to be added to the 2016 summer Olympics, which will be award to Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro or Tokyo on October 2.
On Thursday, the 15-member executive board of the International Olympic Committee will narrow the list to two proposed sports, which will be voted on by the entire 106-member I.O.C. Assembly in Copenhagen on October 9.
And Harrington insists that he would jump at the chance to represent Ireland in an Olympic Games, even if he is 44 or 45 at the time.
“I'd love to be an Olympian,” Harrington said at Hazeltine yesterday. “Doesn't that sound good? Imagine us being Olympic athletes!
“I think it would be fantastic for golf. As a golfer, I would think we have all the credentials to be Olympians.”
Woods confirmed yesterday that he would definitely compete for an Olympic gold medal if he got the chance.
“If I'm not retired by then, yeah,” Woods said, flashing a smile. “I think that golf is a truly global sport and I think it should have been in the Olympics a while ago.
“If it does get in, I think it would be great for golf and especially some of the other smaller countries that are now emerging in golf, I think it's a great way for them to compete and play and get the exposure that some of these countries aren't getting.”
Harrington reckons golf’s clean cut, self-regulating image makes it an ideal candidate for the Olympics.
“It seems like it was always destined to be an Olympic sport,” he said. “I'm sure there's a lot of athletes out there that would never put golf as a sport, but trying to explain that to somebody that doesn't play golf, they will never understand what goes into golf.
“Most golfers realise what goes into it and will see it as being a natural sport for the Olympics.
“I would be in the prime of my golfing career in 2016. I’d be 44 or 45 years old and I’d definitely play.”
Harrington pointed out that while the Olympic Games are not as big a deal in the US, where they are more concerned with their medal tally than the mere fact of competing, it would be a huge honour for an Irishman or woman.
“In a country like Ireland, becoming an Olympic athlete is setting yourself apart. It is a major deal in Ireland. To be an athlete is an honour in itself,” he said.
“It is not a major at the moment but I’d slot it in as just after the majors. In 100 years time it could be a major, so could any of the world championships. It will be one of those tournaments that you’d like to win as it gains in stature over the years.
“Will Tiger play? I would think so. Surely the number one player in the world considers himself and athlete and to be an athlete you have to be competing in the Olympics.”
As for the already crowded golfing schedule, Harrington does not believe that will be an issue for an event that is held every four years.
“It is not like the World Cup of golf, where you could end up playing 10 or 12 times,” he said. “When a player dominates, he has to peak the right eight years to play three times so it is not overkill for any player.
“I know players are talking about it adding to the schedule but it really doesn’t. A player could dominate golf for seven years and only play once."