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Olympic golf suffers another blow

Hend has a round to remember0:50

Golf: Scott Hend has had a round to remember with an albatross on the 17th hole at the EPGA tour event in Shenzen.

Charl Shwartzel has withdrawn from the Rio Olympics.

AP

SOUTH African Charl Schwartzel has followed Adam Scott in skipping the Rio Olympics, becoming the fourth golf major championship winner to make the call.

Schwartzel joins countryman Louis Oosthuizen, Australia’s world No. 7 Scott and Fiji veteran Vijay Singh in making himself unavailable.

The absences have prompted concern from some golf greats who fear the sport’s return to the Games — after a 112-year absence — could be short-lived if too many leading players stay away.

South Africa’s Olympic golf captain Gary Player admitted he was “sad and disappointed” by the unavailability of two of his country’s biggest stars.

“Players withdrawing hurt the game of golf. I was sorry to hear that Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel have withdrawn their names from consideration,” said Player, the winner of nine majors.

Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion would have been in strong contention for an Olympic berth after 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen cited family and scheduling issues for withdrawing.

Scott, the 2013 Masters champion and former world No. 1 is the most high-profile player to say he would not compete in Rio, citing a heavy schedule that includes three majors in seven weeks before the Olympics and “other commitments — professional and personal”.

Singh, a 53-year-old three-time major champion, said two weeks ago he would not play.

Each country is allowed no more than two players until the field for Rio reaches its limit of 60.

Charl Shwartzel has withdrawn from the Rio Olympics.

Charl Shwartzel has withdrawn from the Rio Olympics.Source:AFP

Countries are allowed up to four players if they are ranked in the top 15 of the world ranking by July 11.

Branden Grace, who won at Hilton Head two weeks ago, is the highest-ranked South African at No. 11.

Schwartzel’s absence means Jaco Van Zyl at No. 59 is the most likely candidate to join Grace in Rio.

Scott is the second-ranked Australian (behind Jason Day at No. 1) and his spot most likely would fall to Marc Leishman.

Singh not playing means Fiji will not be represented in the men’s competition.

Golf was last part of the Olympics in 1904.

The IOC in 2009 voted golf back into the program, assuring it a spot for Rio and in 2020 in Tokyo.

A vote in 2017 will determine if golf stays beyond 2020.

Key to golf’s success is getting the top players, and the top three — Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy — have indicated they are playing.

“Golf is one of the most popular sports in the world and our best players should be showcased on the biggest stage in sports,” Player said.

“Luckily, we will still have four more years to make sure the best players see the importance and commit to play in Tokyo, Japan.”

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Quang

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