Pettersen and Kerr on an Olympic Mission to Brasil

February 28, 2011 - Leading women golfers Cristie Kerr and Suzann Pettersen say they've signed up for the HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup because women's golf needs to build its profile in the soccer-mad country to ensure its return to the Olympics is a success.

World No 3 Pettersen and No 4 Kerr have confirmed they will join defending champion Meaghan Francella of the USA in taking part in the event at the Itanhanga Golf Club in Rio De Janeiro on May 28/29 because with golf featuring in the 2016 Rio Games, the tournament has taken on huge added significance.

Pettersen, who was part of the official delegation that successfully presented golf's case to the IOC in Copenhagen 16 months ago, believes the HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup has a vital role in growing golf's popularity in South America before it returns to the Olympic family for the first time since 1904.

The Norwegian player said: "We're on a mission! Clearly, Rio 2016 is going to be a landmark, but we need to lay the foundations. That's why it's so important to be taking part in this year's HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup. We need sports fans in Brazil to know who we are and how good we are and we need to build their desire to see us in five years' time.

"We need to do it because it will build a stronger future for women's golf. For me, the Olympics is something special and it has been a dream to take part in it. Its vision and ideas are something all of us can stand behind."

Both golfers announced their commitment as they were preparing for this week's HSBC Women's Champions event in Singapore.

Kerr said: "This is the biggest single opportunity that women's golf has ever had! It's not about who wins the gold medal in five years' time; it's about an opportunity to grow and expand the sport more than it has ever grown before. We, as the current stars of women's golf, will absolutely kick ourselves if, in 10 years time, we can't look the new young professionals coming through in the eye and say we did everything we could to make being in the Olympics a success. That's why we need to be in Rio now!"

HSBC Group Head of Sponsorship Giles Morgan added: "Golf, and women's golf in particular, is going to change beyond recognition. You only have to look at how women's tennis has increased its share of the spotlight since its return in the 1988 Olympics to understand that.

"Take Russia as an example, where sport revolves around the Olympics; do you really think it would have all the stars like Vera Zvonareva or Maria Sharapova if tennis hadn't got back in the Olympics?

"The HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup may be a smaller scale event than a mainstream LPGA tournament, but it's serving a very important role creating a foothold for golf in a country that doesn't have a high-profile heritage in the sport and doing some of the groundwork for Rio 2016."

Olympic status will give the sport a huge shot in the arm; once we get past London 2012 from a financial perspective it will represent millions of dollars for women's golf through TV rights, sponsorship and funding from governments and National Olympic Committees. It's going to take the sport to a much broader audience and into country's that haven't previously embraced golf.

"Rio will be the focus of international attention for the next five years and this has really elevated the importance of the HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup - it's great news for us as a sponsor, great news for the sport and great news for Brasil."

The HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup takes place at Itanhanga Golf Club, Rio de Janeiro on May 28/29. The purse is $720,000 and the field is made up of 30 players.

Topics: Press Release, HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup, Kerr, Cristie, Pettersen, Suzann, Francella, Meaghan [+]

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