No golf at the Games, please
Honesty got the best of Rory McIlroy the other day when he became just another Olympics fan who said he won’t watch golf.
“I’ll probably watch the Olympics, but I’m not sure golf will be one of the events I watch,” said the four-time major champion who dropped out of the Games a couple of weeks ago. Which events will those be? “Probably the events like track and field, swimming, diving, the stuff that matters.” The stuff that matters. Well said, Rory. Absolutely spot on. Your sport might never treat you the same way again — not only after this comment, but also for the one where you said you’re not responsible for growing the game of golf — but you’ve just sent the perfect message to the International Olympic Committee:
Get rid of this game as fast as you can, at least the men’s portion of it.
No group of top professional athletes has ever turned its back on the Olympic Games as brazenly as this collection of the best male golfers in the world: McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and their ilk. The women? That’s another story. Every top female golfer is going to Rio. There’s only one who would have been in the Top 60, the 39th — ranked player in the world, Lee-Anne Pace of South Africa, who said no.
Interesting, isn’t it, that the world’s top male golfers are the Zika worrywarts, while the world’s top women golfers are the dauntless ones?
For that matter, Michael Phelps is of childbearing age (clearly, having just had a son), as are Katie Ledecky, Missy Franklin and every other Olympian, American and otherwise, about 10,000 in all, going to Rio.
None of them has dropped out due to Zika. Not a one. Of course they haven’t.
An Olympic gold medal means everything to the swimmers, the rowers, the fencers, even the women golfers. How spoiled are McIlory and Co.? An Olympic gold medal would be just another bauble gathering dust on their trophy shelves.
Actually, I’m wondering if the word “Zika” isn’t male golfer code for something else. Something along the lines of: “I’m outta here.”
That said, if there’s one group that deserves to be embarrassed by this mass defection of top talent, it’s the IOC. Many IOC members think they’re royalty and want to be surrounded only by celebrities, so of course they wanted cool male golfers like Tiger Woods to grace them with their presence.
Then Tiger’s back gave out, his game soon followed and the new guys would rather take the week off, so here we are. The IOC would have been far better off keeping softball and never trying to bring back golf. Then again, the only sports organization that does more dumb things than the IOC is FIFA.
That said, I have a prediction: On Sunday afternoon, Aug. 14, if Rickie Fowler or one of the other three Americans is in the hunt for a gold medal, people will care. The same goes for Saturday afternoon, Aug. 20. If Lexi Thompson or one of the other two Americans could win a gold, U.S. sports fans will definitely pay attention.
In 2012, the United States led the medal count in London with 46 gold medals, 29 silver and 29 bronze. If Fowler or Thompson, or Bubba Watson or Stacy Lewis, can become one of the few dozen Americans to win gold medals in Rio, they just might be pleasantly surprised by the reaction.
American sports fans truly love their Olympic gold medallists, and care far more about the Olympics than the Ryder Cup, the Solheim Cup and the U.S. Open, combined.
Just something for Rory, Jordan and the boys to ponder in all their free time.
Rory McIlroy plays a shot fromthe 16th fairway during a practice round ahead ofthe BritishOpenatthe Royal Troon Golf ClubinTroon, Scotland, on Wednesday. He says he’ll be watching the Olympic sports “thatmatter” on TV; which doesn’t include golf.