Sport Golf

Friday 30 September 2016

Top golfer gives an interesting non-Zika related reason for skipping the Olympics

Phil Casey

Published 06/07/2016 | 14:15

AVONDALE, LA - APRIL 29: Brendon de Jonge of Zimbabwe hits his tee shot on the seventh hole during a continuation of the first round on April 29, 2016 in Avondale, Louisiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
AVONDALE, LA - APRIL 29: Brendon de Jonge of Zimbabwe hits his tee shot on the seventh hole during a continuation of the first round on April 29, 2016 in Avondale, Louisiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge has become the latest player to withdraw his name from consideration for the Olympics, but admits it is "truly a business decision."

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While the likes of world number one Jason Day and four-time major winner Rory McIlroy have cited concerns about the Zika virus for opting out of competing in Rio, De Jonge is more concerned about securing his PGA Tour card for next season.

"The reason for my decision is not my concern about the Zika virus. It is truly a business decision," De Jonge said in a statement to GolfChannel.com. "It would have been a great honour to play for my country."

De Jonge is currently 160th on the FedEx Cup points list and needs to finish in the top 125 at the end of the season to keep full playing rights. Competing in Rio would mean missing two PGA Tour events.

"I am truly disappointed, but my current position on the FedEx Cup points list does not allow me the luxury to skip the John Deere Classic or the Travelers Championship," the 35-year-old added. "I must finish in the top 125 to gain entry into our FedEx Cup play-offs. This has to be a priority for me and my family."

Former Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie, who was part of the delegation which delivered golf's Olympic bid in 2009, questioned the disparity between the number of men (13) and women (one) to have so far withdrawn.

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus which has been linked to defects in newborn babies as well as Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis in adults.

"It is a shame that a number of top players have decided not to go," the 53-year-old said. "If there was as many ladies not going, you might have thought that was okay but it's not so it's disappointing. First time we're back in the Olympics since 1904 and we don't show up.

"It's not for me to say the health situation. I thought it (Zika) was a disease that affected women more than it did men. There you go."

De Jonge's withdrawal means that Zimbabwe will not be represented in Rio, but Spain's Sergio Garcia confirmed on Wednesday that he will take up his place.

Garcia wrote on Twitter: "I know there r some dangers but representing Spain, trying to make golf grow & becoming an Olympian r too important so I'll be at @Olympics."

World number six Henrik Stenson also reiterated his commitment to represent Sweden in Rio, the 40-year-old joking: "I'm not afraid of mosquitoes. I'm more afraid of bears."

Speaking ahead of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in Inverness, Stenson added: "I've been looking forward to playing in Rio for quite some time. There's different aspects to it - there's being part of the Olympic movement and seeing an Olympic Games from kind of the inside. I think that's going to be an experience of a lifetime for a sporting fan.

"And then of course if I can go there, compete and compete well, if I make myself and my country happy, that would be something very special. I have a few nice trophies at home and it would be nice to hang an Olympic medal next to them. I think that would look kind of cool.

"It might be the only time when it's a competitive advantage to be 40-plus and done with the bambino thing. I've got three kids at home and I'm not looking to have any more. The Zika virus is not a concern of mine.

"Like with any competition, five years down the line you're not going to think about who wasn't there. You're going to think about who won the medals."

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