Date: August 10, 2015
Author: Rob Grant

Aussies divided over Olympics

Australia's top two players, Jason Day and Adam Scott, have polar opposite views about participating in an Australian team in next year's Rio Olympics.

While Scott has again emphasised his view that the Games will be nothing more than an exhibition for golf, Day is keen to play for gold when the game returns to the Olympic arena for the first time in 102 years.

Scott and Day are currently in line for selection as Australia’s men’s team with medals to be decided in 60-player, 72-hole stroke play events for men and women.

To further confuse the issue, Victorian PGA star Marc Leishman, who could come into contention for a spot, is on the fence about competing.

Scott foreshadowed bypassing Rio as he concentrates on the majors and key tournaments in an already busy program.

“It is absolutely a possibility I won’t go as it is not a priority in my schedule,” Scott told AAP.

“It (an Olympic medal) is nothing I have ever dreamed of having and it really doesn’t have any significance for golf …

“I just don’t think it is the pinnacle of our sport, and it shouldn’t be, and to be honest it won’t be. The majors hold priority, they are the toughest test," he said.

“It is not even a strong field down there so how can it be given that much importance?

“You are not seeing the best of the best. It will just be a fun exhibition for golf.”

Players at Rio will be selected according to world rankings on July 11, 2016, with all players within the top 15 eligible, but no more than four from any one country.

The 60 spots will be pruned to a maximum two players per country for countries that don’t have more than two players in the top-15, which is where Australia currently stands.  Day (No. 4) and Scott (No. 11) are the only two inside the mark. 

Brazil, as host nation, is guaranteed one place and currently the last man in the field would be Chile’s Mark Tullo, who is ranked 334th.

The addition of the Olympics has forced a reshuffle to the major championship schedule in 2016 with the British Open to be held July 14-17, the US PGA Championship moved forward to July 28-31 before the Olympics on August 11-14. Then the US PGA Tour playoffs begin August 25.

Scott said he may rest rather than scramble from one major event to another.

“I am honoured to represent Australia but I feel like I represent Australia every week I play out here on tour,” Scott said.

“I also feel like there are some athletes who only get their shot to medal every four years and that’s the pinnacle for their sport and I am not sure golf has a place there.

“If part of the reason is growing the game, I believe amateur golf in the Olympics would certainly inspire a lot of young people to play — and if you take it up early there is a good chance you are going to continue playing throughout your life.”

Day is happy to work the Olympics into his golf calendar.

“People train their whole lives to win a medal or just compete at the Olympic Games, so to win one would be amazing," Day said.

“Whenever you represent your country you are doing something great.

“If I look at my trophy case one day and see a gold medal and you’re talking about it with your son or your grandkids, that goes down in history forever.”

If Scott turns down a spot in the side world No.30 Leishman would be in line for a place but he too is unsure about the merits of playing.

“I would classify myself as somewhere in the middle,” Leishman said.

“I am not jumping out of my skin to play it but, having said that, it would be amazing to win a gold medal and I absolutely love representing my country.”

Other Australian candidates would be John Senden (world No. 54), Steven Bowditch (No. 63) and Matt Jones (No. 72).