Date: July 14, 2016
Author: Martin Blake, Royal Troon

Zika, Schmika. Hend pumped for Rio

Scott Hend has played golf in far-flung parts of the world for more than a decade, and the fear of marauding mosquitoes is not about to bother him.

Queenslander Hend, who has been selected to play for Australia when golf returns to the Olympic Games next month, is not the slightest bit worried about going to Brazil now that he has the chance to represent his country.

The Zika virus that has led to so many of the top male professionals withdrawing from Rio is not a problem to him, since he has played much of his golf in Asia, recently winning in Thailand.

“I haven’t looked into it at all,” said Hend, the world No. 81.

“I’ve travelled all through south-east Asia and through India and places like that (where) obviously there are a lot of fevers, malaria, everything.

“I mean, I will take precautions, Aerogard or Rid or whatever, I’ll take the yellow fever shot I have to because I’m in the Australian team.

“But you know what? You can get hit by a bus tomorrow.”

Australia will be represented by Hend and Marcus Fraser in the Olympic Games, while world No.13 Minjee Lee from Perth, and Melbourne’s Su Oh won the two berths for the women’s tournament.

Like Hend, Fraser said this week he had no real concerns about Zika and was delighted to become an Olympian for the first time.

The Olympics have been a major talking point at Troon this week with a lot of players being asked to explain why they will not play at Rio, and others, such as Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, saying they cannot wait. The top four male players have all withdrawn, and Rory McIlroy has copped some flak in the press today for saying that while he would watch the Games on television, it might not be the golf that he takes in.

World No. 2 Jordan Spieth said his withdrawal was the hardest decision of his life, adding that he believed in the notion of Olympic golf.

Golf’s re-inclusion in the Olympics comes after more than 100 years, and has been pitched by the international Golf Federation as a method of growing the game.

It is scheduled to be part of the Olympic program in Japan in 2020, but there is a review scheduled for next year where the withdrawal of many of the top male players will undoubtedly be discussed.