Colin Montgomerie insists the threat of the Zika virus would not have stopped him playing in the Olympics and admits he fears for the sport’s future in the Games.
Fears surrounding the Zika virus has already led to the withdrawal of several top players, including Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, and Shane Lowry.
Montgomerie, who was part of the delegation which presented golf’s Olympic bid in 2009, also questioned the disparity between the number of men (13) and women (one) to have so far withdrawn.
“It is a shame that a number of top players have decided not to go,” the 53-year-old said ahead of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, which gets underway today.
“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. I thought it (Zika) was a disease that affected women more than it did men. There you go.”
Asked if such an issue would have stopped him from competing, Montgomerie added: “No. No. I’d have gone and I think Ernie Els said the same thing.
“He’s now up for qualification because of the number of South Africans that haven’t actually qualified [Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace have all withdrawn].
“I would be honoured to go. Having presented in front of the committee for golf to get into the Olympics, the least I can do is turn up.
“The IOC will have a good look at this and think, ‘Hang on a minute, what’s happened here?’
“The money that had to be spent to buy the land to build the course to all the stuff that goes on.... it was multi millions they had to find and then (players) do not show up. If I was in charge, I’d have a second look at it.”
Zimbabwe’s Brendon de Jonge became the latest player to withdraw on Wednesday, although he admitted it was financially motivated.
“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.”
Sergio Garcia confirmed he would represent Spain in Rio, writing on Twitter: “I know there are 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 compete for Sweden, the 40-year-old joking: “I’m not afraid of mosquitoes. I’m more afraid of bears.”
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