Date: April 28, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

IBF: Teams needed for Olympic format

Australian captain Ian Baker-Finch has urged Olympic golf officials to change format to a team competition in 2020 to help reduce high-profile withdrawals.

Baker-Finch will be without Adam Scott in Rio in August after the world No.7 cited a busy schedule, as did South Africans’ Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.

But the format and danger of the Zika virus threat in Brazil are also believed to be among their concerns.

While understanding Scott's decision, the former Open champion said his choice might have been different had the Olympic format been different than that of existing four-round individual strokeplay for gold, silver and bronze.

“Everyone is saying Adam's decision weakens the team and all of the negatives but, while we are sending a team to represent Australia, it is an individual event,” Baker-Finch told AAP.

“I don't think people realise that Adam is not letting anyone down. It's his decision and he's entitled to make it. I am disappointed he won't be with us, but I totally understand his position.”

Baker-Finch has passed on his thoughts to the International Golf Federation.

Gary Player and others fear withdrawals will affect the sport’s future in the Games past 2020, but Baker-Finch hopes it will just make officials heed format change calls.

“I think it will make them think about making it a team competition. I'd even love to see it as a mixed team event – that would be awesome.”

Player and Jack Nicklaus have lashed Scott's decision, while others have defended him.

“People not excited to play at the Olympics have just been spoilt. They've been spoilt rotten,” Player said recently.

“You should be honoured to represent your country and … to have the opportunity.”

But Australia’s world No.1 Jason Day backed Scott.

“It hasn't been in the Olympics for 112 years so, for us, your career is pretty much based on how many majors you win and how many tournaments you win,” Day said.

“For me personally, I'm looking forward to the challenge of trying to win a medal … it would be a really, really fantastic honour to be able to win a gold medal or any medal at the Olympics.”