Today In Zika: Rory, Barbados, A Female Defector And How Tennis Got Off To A Rough Olympic Start, Too
Rory McIlroy, who was once excited about Olympic golf until Zika and New Balance uniforms came along, admitted that his WD call to captain Paul McGinley was one of the toughest calls he's had to make, reports Phil Casey (who also reports that Martin Kaymer can't wait to get to Rio).
“That was probably one of the toughest phone calls I’ve had to make, because we’ve talked about it so much,” said McIlroy. “We’ve done so much work, got accommodation, got security down there, got a chef in, got everything planned out. I got my jabs; I had two dead shoulders for about four days.
“But then at the end of the day, if I’m not 100% comfortable going down there, I just don’t want to put it at risk. There’s another Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020 and I’m more than happy to wait until then to get that Olympic experience.”
It appears not many are buying the concerns about Zika, including the readers here. McIlroy has now been questioned by Bloomberg reporter Tariq Panja (here and here), who has asked the McIlroy camp for clarification as to why he vacationed in Barbados two months ago. Barbados is also a Level 2 Zika threat region, like Rio.
An unbylined AP story on Lee-Anne Pace of South Africa dropping out citing Zika keeps her consistent with everyone else from South Africa but Gary Player. Given her desire to start a family soon and that most of us couldn't pick her out of a lineup, we'll wish her well.
The 35-year-old said in a statement that she made the decision after discussing her options with her family and her team.
"I hope that everyone can understand that this was a very difficult decision to come to, however my health and my future family's health must come first," she said.
Matt Ginella talks to architect Gil Hanse about the Olympic dropouts and he's disappointed.
"The overall feeling is disappointment," said Hanse. "To have done what we’ve done, to have worked through so many challenges to complete the project, you’d obviously love to see the best players in the world compete on your golf course."
Hanse says he is contact with the team still on the ground in Rio, which includes the superintendent and the PGA Tour’s on-site agronomist, who are prepping the course for the Olympics.
"Morale is getting lower," said Hanse. “I’m disappointed for everyone involved."
Hey, but there is a morale boosting news! Camillo isn't out...yet, though keeping his card may end up the priority, reports Golfweek's Adam Schupak.
“Yeah, I actually heard Jordan Spieth said I wasn’t going to go play. I’ve been talking to Jordan and a lot of the guys. And I’ve got to be honest, Maria and I are trying to have kids right now. So the Zika is a concern,” Villegas said after the opening round of the Barracuda Championship.
Meanwhile the eligible American golfers were briefed and they're feeling better about things, but are waiting to hear on something else. Also a Schupak report.
“I’ve always wanted to go but I want to make sure me and my team feel safe on the health and security issues,” Rickie Fowler said. “There’s still some stuff ongoing, some logistics to work out.”
As all of this plays out, Christopher Clarey of the New York Times talks to Brad Gilbert and others about tennis returning to the 1988 games and the soft start that sport had due to various concerns similar to the 2016 issues golf faces.
“What’s happening with the golf is a lot like ’88,” Gilbert said. “A lot of the tennis players just weren’t quite sure, and there were some security worries in Seoul.”
No. 1 Mats Wilander, winner of three of the four Grand Slam singles titles, did not make the trip even though he had long relished playing for Sweden in the Davis Cup. Neither did No. 4 Andre Agassi, who would later win the singles gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and discover that it was one of the most gratifying moments of his career.
Gilbert was coaching him at the time.
“When Andre asked me what was the biggest regret of my career, I said if I could change one thing, I would have changed that big penny I had into gold,” Gilbert said, referring to his bronze medal. “And Andre pretty much planned his whole year around the 1996 Olympics.”
On Golf Central, yours truly joined Lisa Cornwell, Matt Adams and Tim Rosaforte for an Olympic golf roundtable.