Montgomerie laments golfers' Brazil no-show

INVERNESS (Britain) • Colin Montgomerie said it was disappointing golf will not "show up" at the Olympics now that several of the world's top male players have decided against taking part in the sport's return to the Games in Brazil next month.

The Scottish golf star was among the delegation that lobbied the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne seven years ago for the sport to go back on the Olympics schedule.

However, 13 of the world's leading men golfers, headed by four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy, have thrown golf's future as an Olympic sport beyond the 2020 Games into doubt by withdrawing from August's competition in Rio.

Golf is back at the Olympics for the first time in 104 years but the likes of McIlroy, world No. 1 Jason Day and US Open runner-up Shane Lowry have all opted out, citing health concerns caused by the presence of the Zika virus in Brazil.

But Montgomerie, speaking ahead of the Scottish Open, said on Wednesday: "It is just a shame.

"To think a few of us went to Lausanne - Annika Sorenstam and I went there with Peter Dawson, the ex-chief executive of the R&A (golf's ruling body), and we presented in front of the IOC committee on golf becoming part of the Olympic Games.

ANTICLIMACTIC RETURN

If there was as many ladies not going, you might have thought that was okay. For me, it's disappointing. It is the first time we're back in the Olympics since 1904 and we don't show up.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE, Scotland golfer, on men's golfers pulling out of the Rio Olympics.

"We were successful in that bid. And it is a shame that a number of top players have decided not to go," the 53-year-old added.

"If there was as many ladies not going, you might have thought that was okay. For me, it's disappointing. It is the first time we're back in the Olympics since 1904 and we don't show up."

Montgomerie stopped short of saying the players' Zika fears were unjustified.

"It's not for me to say about the health situations," he said. "I thought it was a disease that affected women more than it did men. Sorry, but never mind."

Meanwhile five-time Major winner Phil Mickelson said he would compete in Brazil if selected, although the current world No. 21 will not qualify for the Olympics.

"I would definitely play if I was in the Olympics, but then I'm not," said the American.

"I guess I would be concerned for the future of golf in the Olympics going forward. But then I really don't know what's going to happen. I think it's great for the sport, and I think it's a great opportunity."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2016, with the headline 'Montgomerie laments golfers' Brazil no-show'. Print Edition | Subscribe