Golfers at U.S. Open play waiting game over Zika

Tue Jun 14, 2016 6:43pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

OAKMONT, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Concerns over the Zika virus at the 2016 Rio Games have been a hot topic of conversation among the golfers at this week's U.S. Open, with many of them opting to play a waiting game until August.

Earlier this month, world number one Jason Day expressed doubts for the first time over whether he would compete at the Summer Olympics in Brazil while third-ranked Rory McIlroy on Tuesday said his focus, for the moment, was on golf's majors.

"It's still a good bit away," Northern Irishman McIlroy told reporters at Oakmont Country Club about the Aug. 5-21 Rio Olympics. "We've got three (golf) majors to play. Everyone's really concentrating on them coming up. That's our big focus.

"Looking beyond that, Rio is part of our schedule now and something we should get excited about. Golf in the Olympics, it's great for the game. It should hopefully grow the game in different parts of the world that haven't been exposed to golf.

"The chatter has been somewhat quiet so far, mostly everyone's just been talking about Zika. But once we get these majors out of the way ... our attention will turn to that, and I think everyone will start to get a bit more excited about it."

After this week's U.S. Open, the British Open will be played at Royal Troon in Scotland from July 14-17 before the season's final major, the PGA Championship, is staged at Baltusrol in New Jersey from July 28-31.

Masters champion Danny Willett, speaking before he set off for a practice round at Oakmont Country Club on Tuesday, said he was excited about the Olympic Games but would opt not to go if his family's health was at risk.

"It's still up in the air," said Willett, whose wife Nicole gave birth to their first child, Zachariah, on March 30. "Little man's just under 12 weeks old, and if me and Nic were ever thinking about having more kids, we wouldn't leave it too long.   Continued...

Jun 14, 2016; Oakmont, PA, USA; An American flag at half-staff on the second green during the practice rounds on Tuesday of the 2016 U.S. Open golf tournament at Oakmont CC. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports