The Niggle: Are Major winners right to withdraw from the Olympics?
In recent weeks four Major champions – Adam ‘busy playing schedule’ Scott, Charl ‘tight schedule’ Schwartzel, Vijay ‘Zika virus, you know and all that crap’ Singh and Louis ‘no reason’ Oosthuizen – have all withdrawn from this summer’s Olympics.
Gary Player isn’t impressed and took to Twitter: “Much of my life has been spent growing golf around the world, playing on every corner of the globe. Players today make so much and should be giving back.”
So who is right? They are professional athletes used to choosing their schedules – so why should we expect them to treat the Olympics any differently? Or are high-profile players in some way obligated to take up their Olympic places to ensure the sport is showcased as positively as possible?
MT: The Olympics might be new to golf but the dodging of events isn’t. Players miss the Open and WGCs etc – Paul Casey is happy to miss the Ryder Cup – though maybe not to this degree four months ahead of the event, and it’s obvious there isn’t a huge appetite for a lot of players.
It’s not down to money or greed, they just don’t fancy it and fair enough. In the years to come I would imagine they will all regret it – but they are multi-millionaires and prima donnas who are ferried around from A to B in courtesy cars and private jets so, staggering as it might seem, the Olympics would take a huge leap of faith for some.
There is also the argument that the powers-that-be could have made it more appealing but the opportunity to play matchplay, and get knocked out after 14 holes, probably wouldn’t have made a difference.
TI: I think it is bonkers. Lots, and lots of people have worked tirelessly to get golf included as an Olympic sport.
The potential uplift in participation on the back of a successful Olympic games, and future Olympic games, is huge for the sport. It is widely reported that participation in tennis has doubled since its inclusion in 1984, imagine how positive that could be for golf?
I understand that at the moment, an Olympic golf does not carry the same prestige as a Claret Jug or a Green Jacket, but it may do in the future – look what it meant to Roger Federer to win Olympic gold despite his record breaking haul of ‘traditional’ majors.
To ensure a credible, captivating, games the sport needs the backing of its best players and I hope these stars re-consider.
JS: I don’t see what all the fuss is about. The Olympics doesn’t seem like the right stage for multi-millionaire golfers.
In hindsight, they would have been better off making it for amateurs only. It’s turning into a bit of an embarrassing mess.
SC: The fact these guys don’t want to be a part of one of the globe’s biggest sporting events tells you all you need to know about how insular the PGA Tour and European Tour can be.
As a way of growing the game, golf will never have a better chance to be showcased to people who would never ordinarily consider picking up a club.
Fortunately, as long as McIlroy, Spieth and Day take up the mantle, no-one will really care if Scott, Schwartzel, Oosthuizen and Singh give it a miss.
TI: It is short sighted, and I think players withdrawing will one day regret it for all manner of reasons.
What do you think? Professionals making professional decisions or selfish short sighted over paid sportsmen?
Let us know in the comments section below!