The Cut : The Cut - Winter 2016
34 THE CUT 34BRENDAN TELFER B etween them, Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen and Vijay Singh have won five major championship titles. They are golfing royalty. Yet all three have announced they won’t be going to the Rio Olympics. The reasons for their no-show can be loosely summed up in two words: male selfishness. It appears these fellows don’t believe they should shoulder any responsibility to help promote their sport onto the stage of the world’s biggest sporting event. However, I suspect their attitude would be very different if the IOC agreed to pony up the sort of cash these guys regularly command at meaningless events every year. This perceived selfishness has earned the threesome criticism from within and outside the golfing world. Seventy-eight-year-old Dawn Fraser, the 1960s Olympic gold medalist and Aussie swimming legend, fired the opening salvo at her compatriot Scott. “Well done Adam,” she said, “great to put your country on hold so that you can fulfil your own schedule. How much money do you want in life?” Two of America’s finest golfers, Johnny Miller and Jack Nicklaus, joined the chorus. Nicklaus thought it “sad for the Olympic Games and for the game of golf that he [Scott] has turned down the chance to compete at Rio”. Miller, meanwhile, reminded Scott: “Playing for your country is a lot bigger than playing for yourself.” Let’s be honest, golf is a selfish sport. Lydia Ko didn’t win the year’s first women’s major (the ANA) for New Zealand, she won it for herself. All the way down to club golf we put our game first. At the Olympics there’s this very old- fashioned thing at work: you’re there to win medals for your country rather than filling your own boots with metal. Personally, I’m surprised so few golfers have opted out of Rio to date. When tennis was reintroduced to the Olympic Games at Seoul in 1998, the men’s game limped awkwardly onto the Olympic stage. “We don’t need the Olympics, we’ve got our Grand Slams,” was a fairly widely held opinion and sadly that same arrogant refrain can now be heard in some golf circles. Within the tennis world, that selfish mindset of the 1980s has thankfully vanished and now tennis royalty compete at the Olympics. Roger Federer, for example, plays both doubles and singles at the Olympics – a far greater workload than for a Grand Slam. Remember the last two Olympic men’s singles gold medalists? Rafael Nadal in 2008 and Andy Murray in London in 2012. There’s another misguided myth that asserts golf shouldn’t be at the Olympics because an Olympic gold medal is not the pinnacle of the sport and never will be. If that’s the case then surely the world’s best golfers should only play four events every year – the majors – because everything else is irrelevant according to this profoundly silly argument. Interestingly, women golfers and tennis players have a very different mindset to some of their male counterparts. At the 1988 Olympics Steffi Graff won the gold medal in the women’s singles and four years later Jennifer Capriati took out the gold. The world’s top female tennis players have supported tennis at the games from the time of its reintroduction. At the time of writing I am not aware of any top female golfer not wanting to go to Rio. There’s a lesson here, guys: get over yourselves. Recognise the sporting uniqueness of the Olympics and relish the opportunity to do something, to win something, for somebody other than yourself. The Olympics remain our greatest sporting event; they outrank any major golf championship by the length of a Rory McIlroy (who, incidentally, will be in Rio proudly representing Ireland) drive. SHAME ON OLYMPIC NO-SHOWS!
The Cut - Spring 2016