Rio delays picking course designer

Rio de Janeiro is the site of the 2016 Games, where golf will make its return to the Olympics.

Rio de Janeiro is the site of the 2016 Games, where golf will make its return to the Olympics.

SAO PAULO — The designer of the Olympic golf course for the 2016 Summer Games won’t be announced until March.

The winner had been scheduled to be selected Friday after the eight bidders spent two days this week in Rio de Janeiro making final presentations.

This will be the first Olympic course in more than 100 years. Golf is returning to the games for the first time since being dropped following the 1904 St. Louis Olympics.

Organizers said in a statement they were “extremely pleased with the high quality” of the proposals, but the winner won’t be made public until the International Olympic Committee visits Rio in March.

The eight finalists are Gary Player Design, Greg Norman Golf Course Design, Hanse Golf Design, Hawtree Ltd., Nicklaus Design, Renaissance Golf, Robert Trent Jones II and Thomson-Perret Golf Course Architects.

Nicklaus is teaming with Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam on his project, while Norman has a partnership with retired Mexican golfer Lorena Ochoa.

The selection committee is composed of Rio 2016 Olympic committee President Carlos Nuzman, International Golf Federation President Peter Dawson and other local representatives.

The deadline for proposals was extended last year because none of the bidders initially had the proper legal and financial documentation. The winner’s announcement was originally scheduled for December.

Applicants must have prior course design experience, with international companies required to have an established office in Rio. The Rio committee said the course must leave a legacy for the city and be ready to host test events by 2015.

Golf made its debut at the second modern Olympics in Paris in 1900, but lasted only one more games. It was reinstated in 2009 and has a spot guaranteed in the 2020 Olympics, but a good impression in Rio will be critical in keeping the sport in the games beyond that. Another IOC vote on adding or deleting sports is scheduled for 2017.

The Rio golf course will be in the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood, which will hold most of the Olympic venues. The course is expected to be about 3 miles from the athletes’ village.

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