South African golfer Van Zyl chooses Olympics over majors

South African golfer Jaco van Zyl is bucking the trend and skipping two majors this month - the British Open and the PGA Championship - so he can be fresh for the Olympics.

There's a long list of players who have gone the other way and opted out of golf's return to the Olympics after 112 years, either because of the Zika virus or for scheduling reasons.

Top-ranked Jason Day and Rory McIlroy are among 12 eligible players so far choosing to give the Rio de Janeiro Games a miss. Three South Africans alone, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace, decided not to go, giving Van Zyl his chance on South Africa's team.

Ranked No. 65 in the world, Van Zyl said he had been feeling the effects of a long season and, adamant that he wanted to play at the Olympics, he chose to withdraw from next week's British Open and the PGA from July 28-31. The Olympics are next month.

''I expect that there will be a camp that will criticize me for withdrawing from the majors,'' Van Zyl told South African website Sport24. ''Rory (McIlroy) said in a recent press conference that we play four `Olympics' a year because major titles are what we play for, but I don't agree. To me, the Olympics is the pinnacle of all sporting events.

''The majors will still be there next year, but I don't know if I will get another chance (at the Olympics) in 2020.''

Van Zyl's decision will be a small but welcome boost for Rio organizers, who had envisioned a golf competition with the best players in the world battling it out for an Olympic gold medal. That won't be the case. Alongside Day and four-time major winner McIlroy, another five players in the top 25 in the world have said they are not going to Rio.

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