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Why are top golfers so reluctant to play the odds at the Olympics?

By: Golfshake Editor | Fri 08 Jul 2016

Post by Sports Writer Derek Clements

THE odds of Simon Cowell becoming prime minister are 500/1. Cowell, you will realise, is what is known as a showbiz guru, with no interest whatsoever in becoming a politician – this is a man interested only in the ratings for the likes of The X Factor.

Or you can get odds of 2,500/1 on Piers Morgan becoming manager of Arsenal. The journalist and chat show host does at least support the football club, but manager? At any odds?

You can even get 2,000/1 on Kim Kardashian to be elected president of the United States. Mind you, this is a country that could be on the brink of electing Donald Trump to the world’s most powerful job.

Or you can make a flutter on Elvis Presley still being alive, even though we all know he is dead. You will get 2,000/1 for that.

So what, do you reckon, are the odds of contracting the zika virus in Brazil in August 2016? 5/1? 10/1? 50/1? 100/1?

The answer is, wait for it, 500,000/1. Let me spell that out for you – FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND TO ONE!

So will somebody please have the decency to explain to golf fans around the world why so many of the game’s best players have said they have no interest in going to the Olympic Games because it sure as heck has little or nothing to do with their odds of catching the zika virus. If you doubt the voracity of that statement, you should read on.

The likes of Rory McIroy, who initially said that he regarded the Olympics as a unique opportunity to showcase a sport that is in global decline, later changed his mind, saying he and his girlfriend were considering starting a family.  As one of the best players the game has seen and certainly the most exciting it currently has, McIlroy was in a fantastic position to influence potential young golfers around the globe to take up the game.

While McIlroy might genuinely have withdrawn from the Rio Games because of fears of catching the virus, it is also worth remembering that one minute he planned to represent Great Britain and then announced that he was instead going to play under the Irish flag. It caused a great deal of ill feeling on both sides of the Irish border.

Others, including Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen and Vijay Singh said that the Games didn’t fit in with their schedule.

Thank goodness for Dustin Johnson, who says he is "locked in" for the Olympics and can't wait to represent his country at the Olympics, and for Jordan Spieth, who believes that winning a gold medal would be "kinda cool."

Now here is something you may not know. As well as a men’s tournament, a women’s event is also being staged in Rio. And it has attracted a world-class field – not a single woman golfer has said no to Rio. Not one. So the likes of Lydia Ko and Michelle Wie can’t wait to take part in the Olympics, and have even announced that winning a gold medal is one of their priorities in 2016.

Correct me if I am wrong, but is not women who are most at risk from the zika virus? Isn’t it women who fall pregnant? Don’t bother to correct me because I know I am right!

And what about professional tennis? Oh, look at that – not a single player, male or female, has so much as even expressed concern about catching the zika virus. So Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, Serena Williams, Jo Konta et al will all be heading to Brazil, and each and every one of them will be busting a gut to win an Olympic medal.

Be sure of one thing – top tennis players and golfers will be staying in luxury accommodation in Rio where the risk of being bitten by a mosquito carrying the zika virus is somewhere close to zero. And throw in the fact that August is the heart of the Brazilian winter, when there are next to no mosquitos in the air anyway.

So what do you think the odds are of men’s golf receiving a boost or increase in participation as a result of a men’s tournament contested by a second-rate field? About 500,000/1, I would guess.


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