First Minister Alex Salmond has told bunkered.co.uk that he would be delighted to see Scotland's leading golfers compete in the Olympics in Rio in 2016 - but preferably as part of a Scottish, not British, team.
Golf will make its long-awaited return to the Olympics in the Brazilian in four years' time. It last featured in the Games' set-up in 1904.
By the time 2016 comes around, Salmond's referendum on Scottish independence will have taken place and he told bunkered.co.uk today that he is hopeful the result of that ballot will be in favour of his Scottish National Party, which will in turn prevent the country's top players - such as Martin Laird and Paul Lawrie - from having to make a decision on whether or not to pull on the Team GB uniform.
"Luckily, if the time-tables fit as they do and the stars are in alignment, the Scottish golfers wouldn't be faced with that difficult choice because they will have a Scottish team to participate in within that sort of time-scale," said the First Minister, making direct reference to the independence referendum which is widely expected to take place on October 18, 2014 - potentially weeks after the Ryder Cup match at Gleneagles.
"I think golf is the greatest game in the world... and I welcome that Olympic development." - Alex Salmond
"But I think the Olympics are great. I don't think people look at the Olympics to replace majors the same way as you don't look at the Olympics to replace the World Cup in football. I don't think you can ever replace the majors as the ultimate accolades. Those will be the ultimate accolades in golf regarless.
"Even so, I think golf is the greatest game in the world, and every opportunity to see it displayed is very welcome and I welcome that Olympic development."
Alex Salmond was speaking to bunkered.co.uk at the Edinburgh Castle announcement where Aberdeen Asset Management was confirmed as the new title sponsor of the Scottish Open for an initial three-year term.
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