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R&A chief Dawson worried by Rio Olympic course delays

Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of the R&A speaks during a news conference ahead of the British Open golf championship at Royal Lytham & St An
Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of the R&A speaks during a news conference ahead of the British Open golf championship at Royal Lytham & St An

(Reuters) - Construction work on the Olympic golf course for the 2016 Rio Games is behind schedule and a planned test event may not be possible, International Golf Federation president Peter Dawson has warned.

Dawson, also the chief executive of golf's overseer the Royal and Ancient, said that while he was impressed with the proposed coastal layout, progress was worryingly slow.

"We are not satisfied," Dawson told reporters in St Andrews. "I was down there just recently, and while the design of the course looks really good, the progress with the construction is not where we want it to be.

"There are no green shoots on the course yet - unless they are weeds."

Golf will make its first appearance at the Olympics since 1904 after being voted back in, but the Venue Reserva de Marapendi course has been snagged with problems.

Work was held up for months by legal wrangling over land ownership and environmental issues, meaning the original completion date of 2014 now looks unlikely.

As is the case in all Olympic venues, the IOC requires organizers to carry out test events in the build-up to the Games so that problems can be ironed out in good time.

However, Rio organizers are running out of time to organize a tournament on the Gilbert Hanse-designed course.

"There have been so many revisions to the plan it's quite hard to say how far behind they are, but I think we are going to struggle to get a test event a year before the Games," Dawson said.

"I'm not writing that off completely, but we have to recognize that might be difficult.

"There have been meetings held last week in Rio to revise the plan, to increase manpower and facilities, designed to bring the project back on track."

"I wouldn't say I'm disturbed at this point. I'd much rather we were further ahead. I still think it will be ready in time for the Olympics," Dawson added.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ossian Shine)

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