Top-ranked South African Branden Grace has decided against representing his country at this year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro over fears of the Zika virus.
‘After serious consideration it is with regret that I have decided to withdraw myself from the Olympic competition due to the risk posed by the Zika virus,’ he said, ‘Although it was a huge goal of mine to represent my country in the Olympics, I am getting married in November and (my partner and I) are hoping to start a family in the near future so I must put the health of my family first.’
‘I wish the SA team the best of luck in Rio and sincerely apologise to the South African fans as I really appreciate all of the support they give me each week. It would have been a huge honour to represent my country so I really hope to be able to qualify again in four years’ time.’
The world number eleven’s announcement comes days after Rory McIlroy decided to give the Olympics a miss, a hammer blow for golf, which returns for the first time since 1904.
Grace is the third high-profile name from South Africa to withdraw, following in the footsteps of 2010 Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen and 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel.
As the rankings currently stand, Jaco van Zyl (59th) and Brandon Stone (101) will head to Rio in August.