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Australian Olympic golf captain Ian Baker-Finch has implored officials to change the format to a team competition in 2020 to help reduce the number of high-profile withdrawals.
Baker-Finch will be without Adam Scott in Rio this year, the world No.7 pulling out, citing a busy playing schedule and ‘other commitments, both personal and professional’.
The format, potentially adding to his young family and the Zika virus threat are believed to among his concerns.
South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel and Fiji’s Vijay Singh have also opted out.
While understanding Scott’s decision, the former British Open champion believes his choice might have been different had the event format been team based – not individual.
Each country is allowed no more than two players until the field for Rio reaches its limit of 60 with the exception of being allowed up to four players if they are ranked in the world’s top 15 by July 11.
They will play in four-round 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.
While Gary Player and others fear the pullouts will affect the vote to keep the sport in the Games past 2020, Baker-Finch hopes it will just make them 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 even – that would be awesome.”
Player and Jack Nicklaus have disapproved of Scott’s decision, while others have defended him.
“People that are not excited to play at the Olympics have just been spoilt. They’ve been spoilt rotten,” Player said recently at the Masters.
“You should be honoured to represent your country and … to have the opportunity.”
But world No.1 Day has 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.
“For me personally, I’m looking forward to the challenge of trying to win a medal … it would be really, really fantastic honour to be able to win a gold medal or any medal at the Olympics.”