Two-time European Tour winner Jamie Spence has been named as Golf Team Leader for Team GB at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
The 50-year-old Englishman has been appointed to the voluntary role by the British Golf Association (BGA), ahead of golf’s long-awaited return to the Olympic Games for the first time since 1904.
Spence, who boasts an impressive CV and is well-respected in golfing circles, is hugely excited at the prospect of leading a team of top-ranked male and female British professionals in Brazil, with a gold medal his ultimate aim.
The selection criteria remains to be finalised by the International Olympic Committee. However, it is expected to be based off the world rankings in the lead up to Rio, with a maximum of four male and female players per country. This means a host of leading British players will vie for qualification.
Spence, who enjoyed a 20-year career on the European Tour highlighted with wins at the Canon European Masters in 1992 and the 2000 Moroccan Open, as well as a 1992 Dunhill Cup team victory with England, said: “I’m honoured to have been chosen for this role. Going to the interview was like the feeling I had being on the first tee of The Open, I still have that same excitement.
“It’s very important that golf is back in the Olympics and our players could make history, as winning an Olympic gold will live with you for the rest of your life. My aim is to go to Rio and help the team win a gold medal.”
Spence, who will be reporting to the BGA Board and ultimately the British Olympic Association, will draw on his varying experiences to ensure he thrives in his new role.
Notably, he was part of the European backroom team for their last two Ryder Cup victories at Celtic Manor and Medinah, assisting with clothing, hotel rooms and team room set-up, as well as motivational work.
To further illustrate his strong golf relationships, Spence was the Chairman of the Players’ Tournament Committee on The European Tour for three years and is currently Director of Player Relations, shadowing present Chairman Thomas Bjorn.
The Kent resident has also been working with Sky Television since 2005 as a valued studio analyst, has worked as an on course commentator for European Tour Productions for the last three years and has also started to coach professionals, helping young Englishman Tommy Fleetwood achieve his maiden Tour win at Gleneagles last August.
Spence, who intends to play an increased schedule on the European Senior Tour in 2014, added: “I think my experience of playing tournament golf for 20 years has got to help really, as I’m going in to it from a perspective of what would I like, what would I need, going out to an event like the Olympics.
“I’m in contact with a lot of the male players through my current roles. I do know quite a few of the ladies players as well, but maybe not the younger generation, so I’m looking forward to meeting them and going to some of their events.”
Commenting on how his Ryder Cup involvement will aid his work for Team GB, Spence said: “To be in the background of Europe’s last two Ryder Cup wins was a great experience. The organisational work involved is considerable and to be that close to the action was something you can’t buy.”
Hamish Grey, the Chair for the BGA and Scottish Golf Union CEO, said: “The British Golf Association is delighted to appoint Jamie to this important role.
“He is a hugely experienced individual and his appetite and enthusiasm for the post shone through at the interview stage.
“He possesses proven leadership skills, is a strong communicator and is well organised. We believe Jamie is the perfect figurehead to oversee our build-up towards Rio 2016.”
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