Thursday, July 14, 2016

2016 Olympics in #Golf - For Whom Does Patriotism Trump Zika?

2016 Rio Golf OlympicsYour country has asked for your representation in golf at the 2016 Olympics, to possibly bring home the gold for the Motherland...what do you do? 

Do you proudly accept the challenge and gallantly make your way to the first tee armed with bug spray or do you pull out just before the event?

Several top names on both sides of the pond have "bugged out" of the 2016 Summer Olympics from Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott and Jason Day to the latest Americans, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth . It has now been reported that the top four golfers in the world will not represent their section of the world for the sake of their country (here is that latest Official World Golf Ranking).

The athletes in question have made it evident that they will not be competing due to the Zika virus and, from the public to their brethren, they are being criticized for their decision.

Paul McGinley, Olympic golf captain for Team Ireland, had this to say about McIlroy's absence, "The shame for Rory is I really think he would have benefited from being around other athletes..."

"It's really good for the heart and the soul to be involved with so many other athletes where it's the most important thing in their game."

2016 Masters Champion Danny Willett took a poke at the pull-outs just before The Open by saying, "You've got more chance of getting malaria in South Africa than you have of getting Zika when you go to Rio, If there was an Olympic Games down in Johannesburg, would guys pull out because of malaria?"

What Rory McIlroy said in defense of his decision was nothing short of impudent, according to Brandel Chamblee. McIlroy went so far as to say he did not get into golf to grow the game.

"I got into golf to win major championships. I get that I have a responsibility to the game. But at the same time I got into golf to win. I didn’t get into golf to get other people into the game." Rory will watch some athletes at the Summer Games, he stated, but will not tune into the sport that has made him millions as well as a role model.

What does the public think of their heroes? Some wonder why women competing in other outdoor sports like kayaking have not opted-out of the summer games. "Can't imagine saying no when you have been called to rep your country!"

Although Dustin Johnson feels "honored" to represent the USA, withdrawal takes on a personal note as DJ wants to have more children with fiancee Paulina and, according to the CDC, the Zika virus is sexually transmitted "causing a birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects."

Is it just worry over the Zika Virus or could there also be other more personal objections as to why Olympic gold doesn't hold as much weight for golfers as the trophies to be won during the rest of the season? Here are a few possibilities:

1. Zika Virus - fearing safety of their possible unborn children.
2. Already making millions of dollars and don't really need to compete with possible standing water on course and in sweltering heat of Rio to possibly win a medal.
3. DJ's recent win at the U.S. Open was accompanied by a large check and a beautiful trophy. The Fed Ex Cup and the Wanamaker are more in line with chosen profession and worth a tidy sum in future endorsements. Fed Ex Cup with payout is worth $10 million.
4. For Adam Scott, his overwhelming golf schedule played a part in his decision to opt out of the Summer Olympics. Three majors all lined up, a WGC event and a newborn made the decision easier for him.

Who has decided to step-up for pride of country, happily wearing their countries' colors?

Although the big news is who will not be in attendance, the opposite should be true - we should be focusing on the positive and cheer on our heroes.

The Olympic Men’s Golf Team USA roster is almost complete with players Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed (so far although, after he heard that DJ was out, he had to think about his commitment) in the mix. Jhonattan Vegas is Venezuela's entrant into the field and Padraig Harrington is ready and raring to go. Guess we'll have to wait and see the final roster as players are dropping out like flies.

Are you going to watch golf in the 2016 Olympics? Do you agree with the players who have dropped out due to the Zika virus? Let us know in the comments section of our golf blog and on Twitter @Golf4Beginners.


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