Olympics: Absent Stars Threaten Return But Golf Wants A Mulligan

Olympics: Absent stars threaten return but golf wants a mulligan

RIO DE JANEIRO, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 11th August, 2016) : Brazilian Adilson da Silva ended golf's 112-year absence from the Olympics with his opening tee shot Thursday, but the sport faces a fight to remain due to absent stars. The first Olympic golf shot since Canada's George Lyon won at St. Louis in 1904 landed in the fairway on a revamped Rio sandmine where a crocodile lurks as a few hundred spectators watched the historic resumption of play.

Reigning British Open champion Henrik Stenson of Sweden and 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett of England were among six major winners in the field of 60 seeking a gold medal and berths in every 2017 major championship. But the world's four top players -- Australia's Jason Day, Americans Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth and Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy -- were among about 20 top stars who skipped Rio. Health concerns over mosquito-borne Zika, a virus linked to severe illness and birth defects, were named by many as a reason for saying no.

But many sceptics say Zika was a convenient excuse for golfers worn down by playing two majors in three weeks, especially with the US PGA Tour's season-ending playoffs for a $10 million top prize starting days after Rio ends, unchanged despite the Games crunch. Next year, the International Olympic Committee will evaluate its offerings in every sport category to determine inclusion beyond 2020 in Tokyo. And IOC president Thomas Bach says top stars competing would be among key factors considered.