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Officials happy with planned spread of Olympic 2016 nations

By Tony Jimenez

HOYLAKE England (Reuters) - Organizers of golf's comeback to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero in 2016 are confident the event will feature a good geographical spread of competitors.

Sixty players are to line up in both the men's and women's 72-hole strokeplay tournaments in Brazil.

Golfers in the top 15 of the world rankings will automatically be eligible although no more than four players from any one country can compete.

Officials will also make space for at least one male and one female player from Brazil and are also committed to having at least one golfer from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

"The current count, determined by today's rankings, I think is about 35 countries (would be represented) for the men and about 33 for the women," said Peter Dawson, president of the International Golf Federation (IGF) organizers.

"We've got a good spread of countries in there and there's a good chance for every nation to have a go," added Dawson who is also chief executive of the Royal & Ancient, the body that runs this week's British Open at Hoylake.

Former world number one Rory McIlroy, who had the option of competing for Britain or Ireland at the Olympics, has vowed to represent the latter in Rio.

IGF executive director Antony Scanlon said anyone else involved in the same dual-nationality scenario as Northern Irishman McIlroy would have to make a final decision by the end of this week.

The IGF will start to publish weekly Olympic rankings, based on the world rankings, next week.

"We didn't think it would be fair to switch nationalities halfway through the ranking process just because they would have more chance to play for one country than another," said Dawson.

Golf is returning to the Olympic schedule in 2016 for the first time since 1904.

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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