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Arnold Palmer says the future of golf lies in the Olympics

Mar 22, 2013, 7:17 PM EDT

Insperity Championship  - Round Two Getty Images

Golf legend Arnold Palmer said Friday that he believes the future growth of the sport lies in how it’s embraced internationally by Olympics fans.

“As the Olympics cast their influence on the world with golf becoming an Olympic sport it is going to have a great affect on the game,” Palmer told Reuters during his tournament at Bay Hill.

“International golf is going to become a bigger factor as time goes on than it is now and I think that we as a nation and the [U.S.] are going to have to take a look at the international aspects of golf.”

To be fair, twelve nations are represented in the top forty spots in the World Golf Rankings, but to be just as fair, another 19 are from the States. Palmer added that he would have loved the opportunity to play in the Games (which haven’t been contested since St. Louis in 1904), but that he’s at least a little concerned with the recent delays in course construction down in Rio.

“I am still little nervous about the Olympics and how that will transpire in 2016 simply because they are a little behind the gun already and they are going to have to pick up pretty quickly. It takes a little time to build a golf course and takes a little more time for it to mature into a championship type golf course.”

The Gil Hanse-designed course broke ground earlier this week after a six month land dispute.

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