By Lizzie Rose. Last Updated: 10/10/09 1:45pm
Nicklaus: Great day for golf
The biggest names in golf have been celebrating on the day the sport was added to the Olympic programme for the 2016 games.
The International Olympic Committee voted for both golf and rugby sevens to be included in the Olympics in Rio De Janeiro in seven years' time.
American golfing icon Jack Nicklaus, who was an ambassador for the International Golf Federation's campaign, said it was a great day for the game.
"I want to congratulate all those who worked and campaigned so passionately over the last couple of years to make this day a reality," he said.
"It is obvious that the unified voice of golf was not only heard but embraced by the International Olympic Committee.
"All of us who have spent our lives playing and enjoying the game of golf fully understand why it deserved a spot on the Olympic programme, and now the sport I have always called the greatest game of all can be shared with the rest of the world on the greatest stage in sports."
World number one Tiger Woods, who sent a video message as part of the final presentation to the IOC, added: "I think it's great for golf. It's a perfect fit for the Olympics, and I think we are all looking forward to golf getting into the Olympics."
Woods, 33, had said previously that he hoped to play in the 2016 Games and asked what would it mean for someone to be a part of the Olympics, he replied: "Well, you'd have to ask Olympic athletes. We as golfers have never had it, so this will be a new experience for golfers who get to participate in the Olympics.
"Having talked to other athletes who have had a chance to experience the Olympics, they have absolutely loved it and had the greatest time."
World number two Phil Mickelson commented: "I think this is important for the game of golf. It's important for the growth of the game of golf and it's exciting what it will mean on a worldwide level for this great game.
"For us to be able to showcase the game in the Olympics is a unique opportunity."
Meanwhile Spain's Sergio Garcia received the news during his second round at the Madrid Masters, where he shares a halfway lead with Scot David Drysdale.
The 29-year-old said he was not only targeting the 2016 Olympics, but the two games after that as well.
"If I stay in shape I probably have three chances," he said.
"I'm thrilled and excited about the possibility. There's still a long way to go, but I'm going to try to stay healthy.
"I've always watched runners, high jumpers, long jumpers thinking it would be nice to have the chance and now we do.
"Until you are there and part of it you don't know what it feels like. It's like the Ryder Cup - only once you play do you realise how big it is.
"We have the majors and the Ryder Cup, but winning an Olympic gold medal would be awesome - and staying at the Olympic village would be a great experience."
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