Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sorenstam aren’t the only power couple seeking to build the golf venue for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
They’ve got company, and they are old rivals: Greg Norman and Lorena Ochoa.
The recently retired Mexican LPGA star, who just launched her course architecture firm, and Norman announced their design partnership last week. They christened the business venture with hopes of landing the Olympic bid for the venue project.
However, it remains unknown whether the Rio 2016 organizing committee will opt for a new course or use an existing facility.
Peter Dawson, R&A chief executive, Antony Scanlon, executive director of the International Golf Federation, and Ty Votaw, executive vice president of the PGA Tour, are meeting with the organizing committee this week in Rio de Janeiro to discuss a number of issues, including the venue. The IGF is working with the organizing committee to help it make a final decision. They began studying venue options in January and haven’t issued a time table for site selection.
The Gávea Golf and Country Club and the Itanhanga Golf Club are the only two full-length, 18-hole golf courses being considered as possible venues but both would need a major facelift.
Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sorenstam wrote to the IGF earlier this year for the honor of building the course that would host golf’s first return to the Olympics since 1904.
Their challengers clearly are hoping that Ochoa’s appeal in Latin America will help their cause. Norman’s design company has opened more than 70 courses worldwide within the past 23 years. His partnership with Ochoa will be handled as a separate entity, apart from their respective brands, and utilized only for special projects.
“I look forward to the opportunity to learn from Greg and offer my unique perspective which hopefully will allow us to bring lots of energy and excitement to our new collaboration,” Ochoa said. “We need to include a woman’s look into the design process to make sure the final results offer a great experience from the front tees as well as the back tees.”
Ochoa and Norman are scheduled to play together during the pro-am at the LPGA’s Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Guadalajara on Nov. 10. They are also expected to discuss their design venture during the event.