The news that Adam Scott won’t be competing in the Olympics didn’t come as a surprise. The Aussie, currently ranked seventh in the world, said the major championships are his priorities this summer. And that’s that.
LPGA players have been asked whether they intend to travel to Rio de Janeiro in August. Not because there was any question of their desire to compete – no player with whom I have spoken has considered qualifying for the Olympics to be an inconvenience – but rather safety concerns over the Zika virus. The mosquito-borne virus, which originated in Africa but has reached pandemic levels in Brazil and elsewhere in South America, has been linked to abnormally small brains in newborns.
Inbee Park planned to consult her doctor about the risks. Brittany Lincicome said that she and her husband have discussed him staying home during the Aug. 17-20 women’s golf competition, should she qualify, so they’d cut their chances of contracting the virus in half.
“If you’re not thinking about it, you’re pretty ignorant, I would say, being a girl,” said Suzann Pettersen, who is set to marry fiance Christian Ringvold in January in Norway.
There’s no doubt that LPGA players have more to gain in terms of exposure through the Olympics.
But that’s not the main reason for their enthusiasm.
Karrie Webb, an LPGA Hall of Famer from Australia, shared no opinion on countryman Scott’s decision to skip the Olympics, but said she’d be there with bells on if she qualifies.
Legendary Australian swimmer Dawn Fraser, who won eight medals — including four gold — during the 1956-64 Games — took Scott to task on Facebook:
From the post:
“well done Adam great to put your country on hold so that you can fulfill your own schedule. how much money do you want in life not showing much for your country I guess working 3 jobs a week to secure my place as a Olympic swimmer has giver me the strength to say what I feel about sportsmen and women that do this”
A team format would’ve done wonders for golf in the Olympics. But a hum-drum stroke-play format is not a good enough reason to skip the Rio Games.
Golf needs the marquee players on board to stay in the Olympics beyond 2020. And golf needs to grow. Only time will tell how much of an impact Rio might have on golf around the world.
Will the 2016 summer schedule be packed? No question. But the bigger picture suggests that golf in Rio (if safe) should be a priority.
Don’t spoil it by looking spoiled.