Eight Finalists for Rio Olympics Course

Eight golf design firms have been selected as finalists for the new course to be built for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. On Monday, the firms will attend a workshop to receive technical specifications and budget information from Rio 2016 officials.

After that, they'll have seven weeks to tour the site, create an 18-hole routing, and prepare a 45-minute presentation to be delivered to Olympics officials at the end of January.

The firms include: Greg Norman and Lorena Ochoa; Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sorenstam; Gary Player Design; five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson (Thomson-Perret Golf Course Architects); Robert Trent Jones II; Tom Doak (Renaissance Golf); Gil Hanse (Hanse Golf Design); and Englishman Martin Hawtree (Hawtree Ltd.).

"For the time frame we've worked on this compared to most other projects - this is like a nanosecond," Norman said of the fast time frame. "At the end of the day, the overriding thing as far as I'm concerned is the success of golf in the Olympics. We can all design golf courses. We wouldn't be in the finals if we couldn't, right?"

Olympic officials have said the course should leave a legacy to the city, and serve in youth sports education and events after the games.

"The statement you make in 2016 is obviously the statement that's going to carry golf forward," added Norman, who's hosting this week's Franklin Templeton Shark Shootout in Naples, Fla. "Whoever is the final pick, it's crucial. They have to carry the banner for the game of golf for years on. Not just for 2016, but for years into the future."

The course will be built in Rio de Janeiro, likely in the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood, the site of most of the Olympic venues.

Applicants had to show prior course-design experience, and have an office established in Rio. The winner will be paid $300,000 for the design. The conditions of a local office and the relatively low fee made some design firms reluctant to submit applications.

In 2009 golf was added to the 2016 and 2020 Olympics along with rugby sevens. The sports were approved by the International Olympic Committee membership during the IOC's 121st session.

Golf was last an Olympic sport at the 1904 Games in St. Louis, Mo., when the United States and Canada were the only two competing countries. George Lyon of Canada won the gold medal, beating H. Chandler Egan of U.S.

Golf was added through the efforts of the International Golf Federation Olympic Golf Committee. Based on player feedback, the IGF originally proposed a 72-hole, individual stroke-play competition for both men and women. In case of a tie for either first, second or third place, a three-hole playoff was recommended to determine the medal winner(s).

Though no decisions have been made on the field or competitive format, the IGF also recommended an Olympic field of 60 players for each of the men's and women's competition, using the Official World Golf Rankings as a method of determining eligibility. The top-15 world-ranked players would be eligible for the Olympics, regardless of the number of players from a given country. Beyond the top 15, players would be eligible based on the world rankings, with a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top 15.

Current world rankings from both the men's and women's games show that at least 30 countries would be represented in both the men's and women's competitions, from all continents, under the original proposal.