29 Jun 2016

Olympics? Male golfers simply don't care

11:55 am on 29 June 2016

Golf's return to the Olympics is at risk of turning into a farce with World No.1 Jason Day the seventh major champion to withdraw due to fears over the zika virus.

The golf world number one Australian Jason Day.

The golf world number one Australian Jason Day. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

A number of the sport's biggest male names, including four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, have already pulled out of Rio due to zika's link with birth defects.

Yet even though pregnant women appear to be most vulnerable to the virus, LPGA players have enthusiastically embraced golf's return to the Olympics after an absence of more than a century.

For New Zealand's World No.1 Lydia Ko, the thrill of being part of the Olympics trumps any fear over Zika.

"It's more important that we enjoy Rio and we're excited about it and all the girls I've talked to, that's kind of the response," said Ko.

"We're all excited to go to Brazil, represent our countries and be there amongst the other Olympians."

In fact, none of the women's golfers have withdrawn.

Day says he and his wife want more children and he must put his family first, however the Australian suggested the Olympics isn't a high priority for male golfers.

"Golf has never been on anyone's radar for the Olympics. What do most people look at in a career? It's major championships. Now they've popped the Olympics in there, but to be honest, I never grew up thinking I'm going to represent my country in the Olympics because there was never an opportunity to."

Days withdrawal will increase concerns that, after a 112-year absence, golf will not last past Tokyo 2020 as an Olympic sport.

World golf number one Australian Jason Day.

World golf number one Australian Jason Day. Photo: Photosport

According to a recent Sports Illustrated survey, 40 percent of LPGA Tour players said they would prefer to win a gold medal in Rio than any of this year's four major golf championships.

In contrast, 29 percent of PGA Tour players expressed a preference for winning gold over the season's final major, the PGA Championship, and that percentage would likely have been lower if the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open had factored in.

62 percent of PGA Tour players rated the Players Championship, which is not a major, above Olympic success.