South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen follows Adam Scott in snubbing Olympics

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Louis Oosthuizen is the latest big-name withdrawal from the Olympics.

In a statement issued by ISM, his British-based management company, 2010 British Open champion Oosthuizen, 33, said he had informed South Africa’s Olympic committee of his decision after “long deliberations citing family and schedule issues”.

“I have always represented South Africa with pride so I didn’t make my decision without a great deal of thought,” said Oosthuizen.

“I would like to wish our golfers and all other athletes competing in Brazil all the very best for success,” he added.

Australia’s Scott, who won the US Masters three years ago, made his announcement on Wednesday, saying:

“My decision has been taken as a result of an extremely busy playing schedule around the time of the Olympics and other commitments, both personal and professional.”

Scott’s decision provoked an angry response from Australian swimming great Dawn Fraser, a triple Olympic 100 metre freestyle gold medallist, who said: “Well done Adam great to put your country on hold so that you can fulfil your own schedule.”

But With golf already having four major tournaments annually — the Masters, British Open, US Open and US PGA — there are those who argue an Olympic gold medal is not the highest honour in the sport and, as such, it has no place in the Games.

This year the US PGA Championship has been moved forward and becomes July’s second major, two weeks after the British Open, in a packed 2016 golf calendar.

“Scott is not the only marquee name who doesn’t embrace the Olympic golf tournament being squeezed into a such a small window in July and August,” wrote Jim McCabe on golfweek.com.

“Don’t be surprised if you hear from another one or two.”

Another comment piece on the USA TODAY website was headlined: “Adam Scott just showed why golf shouldn’t be an Olympic sport.”

“An Olympic gold medal should be the highest honour there is to win in the chosen sport. Anything less devalues the entire competition. That’s not the case in golf,” the column read.

Last week, another former major champion, Fiji’s Vijay Singh, also announced he would skip the Olympics, citing concerns over an outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil.

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Joy of Golf: Scott's Olympic withdrawal is baffling

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Pulling out: Adam Scott.

The fact that Adam Scott has officially ruled himself out for selection to the 2016 Rio Olympics is baffling.

While I am always open to the idea that dissenting voices are essential to the democratic manner in which most sports should be managed, the step taken by the Australian world No. 7 seems rather extreme.

For someone who is as level-headed and logical as Scott, I am surprised he did not give the idea of golf in the Olympics one honest try, which probably would have been his only chance to walk under the Australian national flag in the five-ringed games. After all, he will be 39 by the time the next Olympics come around.

The majority feeling in the world of golf is that inclusion in the Olympics will be great for the sport’s future, especially in countries where it is in at a developing stage.

Unlike Australia, where most sports get a fair bit of recognition from the government, there are many countries – like India and China to begin with – where funds are allocated to only those sports that are part of the Olympics.

Scott should have gone with the flow, at least for the 2016 Olympics, before forming his opinions.

There are many players – including Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth – who do not think an Olympic gold measures up to a Green Jacket or a Claret Jug, but that has not led them to be critical of a move that has the potential of widening the footprint of their sport.

And I do not buy the argument of a crowded schedule. There have been umpteen occasions when players far busier than Scott have played four weeks in succession. Yes, the inclusion of Olympics does make things tough, but not to the extent that it is completely ruled out. There are a couple of other things I wanted to point out in the Scott and Olympics saga.

Unlike a few social media posts that have condemned Scott to be very un-Australian in taking the decision, I don’t think patriotism played any role in this. We all know Scott is as Australian as they get.

Secondly, Scott pulling out may not look good right now – after all, he has an elevated stature in the game – but it is not going to make any difference to golf in the Olympics, as every other top golfer wants to be a part of this new experience.

Scott has said many times he has no regrets in his career, not even the loss of the Open Championship in 2012. Hopefully, the Olympics golf will be so good this year that missing it becomes his only golfing regret.

Els’ turnaround

As much as last week’s RBC Heritage belonged to South Africa’s Branden Grace, his compatriot Ernie Els also shared the spotlight. Not only did the four-time major champion show off his precognition abilities by predicting Grace’s rosy future at Harbour Town Golf Links, he also made one of the most astonishing turnarounds with his putting woes.

The man with one of the smoothest swings in the game, provided one of the most horrific moments of the sport in recent times when he six-putted for a nine on the opening hole of Augusta National. After the round, Els said he just could not take his putter back, and that the uncomfortable reaction of fellow players and cad- dies made him feel like “walking without his pants on”.

But not only did Els play superbly in the Masters after that opening hole, he was just awesome with the putter at RBC Heritage last week, where he shot a final-round 66 to finish tied 14th. More importantly, Els was third in the field in strokes gained/putting at 2.096.

The Big Easy’s reputation was enhanced further when Grace revealed how Els literally forced him to play at Harbour Town by saying he had the ability to win on the golf course multiple times.

Well, Grace has already made it one-down by the end of the week.

Quote of the Week

“At the end of the day, golf is a sport. This isn’t life and death stuff. There are far greater struggles that exist in the world than not winning the Masters. We are beyond blessed to do what we do. We are grateful to work alongside the greatest golfers and caddies in the world. It is a challenge we relish” – Michael Greller, Jordan Spieth’s caddie, in his Facebook post after Spieth’s loss at the Masters

Stat of the Week

1 – Only one hole (the par-4 eighth) averaged below its par (3.99) during last week’s Open de Espana at Valderrama. The second easiest hole was the par-5 11th, which played exactly to an average of five, while rest 16 played above par, thus giving a fair indication of how tough the golf course was.

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Adam Scott makes himself unavailable for Olympic selection

Phil Casey 21/04/2016
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Olympic snub: Adam Scott.

Former Masters champion Adam Scott has ruled himself out of this summer’s Olympics in Rio, when golf returns to the Games for the first time since 1904.

Scott had previously said winning an Olympic medal was “nothing I’ve ever aspired to do” and questioned the 72-hole strokeplay format for what he called “an exhibition event”.

And in a statement released Tuesday night, the 35-year-old confirmed that he was unavailable for selection for the Australian Olympic Golf Team.

“My decision has been taken as a result of an extremely busy playing schedule around the time of the Olympics and other commitments, both personal and professional,” Scott said.

“I have informed the Australian team captain and relevant authorities, who are understanding of my position and I wish the Australian Olympic Team the very best of luck in Rio.”

Golf’s inclusion in the Olympics has resulted in a tightly-packed 2016 schedule and provoked a mixed reaction from the game’s star players.

Asked in January whether he would rather win a gold medal in Rio or another major title, world No. 3 Rory McIlroy had no hesitation in preferring more major titles.

He said: “I think a major championship is the pinnacle of our sport. I think I’ll be remembered for my major championships.

“All I’ve dreamed of from a little kid is winning majors. I never dreamed of competing in the Olympics or winning an Olympic medal. So in my mind, a major will always be more important.”

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