Van Zyl sceptical over golf no-shows

Rio de Janeiro - South African golfer Jaco Van Zyl cast doubt on the reasons given by the world's top golfers for pulling out of the Olympics on Monday, questioning whether health concerns really prompted the withdrawals.

World number one Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy have all opted to skip the Olympics in Rio, citing fears over the deadly mosquito-borne Zika virus.

The rash of withdrawals has dealt a crippling blow to the credibility of golf's return to the Olympics after a 112-year absence.

Van Zyl however said he believed the Zika virus was being used as a pretext for players simply not willing to play in Brazil.

"Honestly, I can't feel that the Zika virus would be their reason not to go, the Zika virus is in Florida," Van Zyl said.

"I think they have got other reasons for not wanting to participate and the Zika virus is a very convenient way for them to get out of it."

Van Zyl, whose compatriots Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel also ruled themselves out of the competition in Rio, said he placed a greater value on winning an Olympic gold rather than a major championship.

"If I can choose one (a major championship win or an Olympic gold medal) I would definitely take the gold. The reason being that there are four majors every year and one Olympic gold medallist in 112 years. To get an opportunity and let it pass by doesn't make much sense to me," Van Zyl said.

"I personally feel every opportunity you get to represent your country is a great privilege."

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