SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The Olympics won't start until six weeks from Friday. But the countdown has already struck one for golf's return to the Olympics.
A month ago, the world's No. 1 player said he was looking forward to representing Australia and trying to win a gold medal. This week, Jason Day was the latest prominent player to say he will not be traveling to Rio de Janeiro for the Games, another shot to what was supposed to be a star-filled Olympic field there.
Day joins world No. 4 Rory McIlroy and No. 8 Adam Scott in opting out, while No. 2 Jordan Spieth and No. 7 Rickie Fowler have indicated they are still considering withdrawing.
"There are a few health problems as well," Day admitted at the same time he spoke of how excited he was to be going to the Olympics. "So, there's a few scares that everyone is kind of weary of."
While several of the players who are young and plan to either start or add on to young families cited the Zika virus for not going, questionable security, political uncertainty and general disorganization in the host city are also reasons anyone should consider staying away.
That decision would be difficult to make for athletes in some sports for which there is no greater stage than the Olympics. But that does not include professional golfers. With four major championships in a Ryder Cup year and a $10 million FedEx title at the end of the season, an Olympic Gold is at best the seventh most-coveted championship of 2016 for some players. And, for many, that's not important enough to justify the risks of being in Rio this summer.
"To be able to go down there and try to win a gold medal and represent your country," Day said. "Is a unique and massive honor."
Unfortunately, it is just not the draw for golfers that it is for pole vaulters and fencers and badminton players.
That doesn't mean, as some have said, it was wrong to bring golf back to the Olympics. It was just wrong to bring the Olympics to Rio.