Olympic exits sadden Montgomerie

2016-07-06 20:03
Colin Montgomerie (AFP)

Inverness - Colin Montgomerie said golf had "not shown 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.

Scottish golf star Montgomerie, one of Europe's most consistent Ryder Cup players, was among the delegation that lobbied the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne seven years ago for the sport to go back on the Games schedule.

But 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 number one Jason Day and US Open runner-up Shane Lowry have all opted out, citing health concerns caused by the presence in Brazil of the Zika virus.

However Montgomerie, speaking in Inverness, northern Scotland, ahead of the start of the Scottish Open, said 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 (Royal and Ancient, which oversees golf's rulebook), and we presented in front of the IOC committee on golf becoming part of the Olympic Games.

"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.

"So for me, it's disappointing. It is the first time we're back in the Olympics since 1904 and we don't show up."

But 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. There you go."

Meanwhile five-time Major winner Phil Mickelson, who in 2013 enjoyed back-to-back wins at both the Scottish Open and British Open, said he would compete in Brazil if selected, although the current world number 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.

"But it would be an incredible life experience and something that I really set out to do," left-hander Mickelson added.

"I worked hard in the off-season to try to accomplish that goal, and unfortunately I haven't had the results that year that I needed to to get in.

"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.

"But I understand -- I don't think the reasons for players not going are Olympic-related as much as they are concerns for where it (the Games) is at."

However, Henrik Stenson, who will be Sweden's top-ranked Olympic Games golf qualifier, said he fears bears more than Zika virus-carrying mosquitoes.

"I'm not afraid of mosquitoes. I'm more afraid of bears," he said with a smile.

"No. I've been looking forward to playing in Rio for quite some time. There's different aspects to it; there's being part of the Olympic movement and seeing an Olympic Games from kind of the inside.

"So it's going to be an experience of a lifetime for a sporting (sports) fan."

Read more on:    olympics 2016  |  colin montgomerie  |  golf

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