Troon - Justin
Rose is hopeful the threat posed by the Zika virus will prove to be a
"non-event" as he explained his decision to compete at the Rio Olympics
Golf's return to the Olympics for the first time in 112 years has
been hit by a host of the world's leading male players withdrawing en
masse, with American star Jordan Spieth the latest name to pull out on
Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson had already withdrawn amid
fears over the mosquito-borne virus, meaning that none of the world's
current top four players will feature in Rio.
But Rose, whose words were echoed by reigning Masters champion Danny
Willett, said: "I think the Zika risk is going to be one of those things
that we look back at and think it's a non-event, hopefully.
"You're going to get down there and you're probably not going to see a mosquito in sight.
"But at the same time, no one can stand there and categorically tell you you're going to be okay, and that's the problem."
The International Golf Federation's president Peter Dawson admitted
on Monday that the spate of pull-outs "hasn't shed golf in the best
light" and Rose, 11 in the world, accepted that it was unfortunate to
see so many leading names turn their backs on Brazil.
"It's been sort of a sad situation to see those sorts of guys pulling
out. It's obviously weakened the field," said the Englishman.
"But you've got to respect their position. You do have to put your health and family first from that point of view."
Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, Henrik Stenson, Rickie Fowler
and Willett are some of the players who will feature in Rio, and Rose
hopes golf can go on to retain its status as an Olympic sport after this
"I'm excited about it, treating it as a once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity. I hope that I'll be able to play again in Tokyo," in 2020,
added Rose, who was talking at Troon in Scotland ahead of this week's
Willett, who also features on the final list of 60 players revealed on
Monday, said going to Rio was a risk worth taking.
"You've got more chance of getting malaria in South Africa than you have in getting Zika when you go to Rio," said Willett, 28.
"I think the opportunity was obviously there to be an Olympian and
that to me was something that I think was going to be pretty cool.
"You don't know how many times you will be in the Olympics, if it will be in the Olympics again.
"I was pretty sure all along I wanted to go play unless the threat
would have gotten worse, then it would have been a very different story.
"But from what I understand in speaking to the guys, the threat is
lessening every day. It's obviously winter over there, and the guys are
taking precautionary measures to make sure things are as safe as
Defending the suggestion that the event will be less of a spectacle,
Willett added: "You're still going to get to see some of the best
golfers in the world competing, and there are a few that are going to be
missing out there
"But I don't think it takes away from the event because one or two guys pull out."