Olympics | Golf

Gary Player wants format overhaul for Olympic golf

South African golfer Player believes choosing strokeplay was a mistake for the sport's return to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Gary Player wants format overhaul for Olympic golf

Player says strokeplay format a mistake

South African legend Gary Player believes golf chiefs blundered by opting for a strokeplay format (where every stroke is counted for the golfer's score) for the sport's return to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Player, the nine-time major winner and captain of the South Africa team, described the decision as a 'grave mistake', arguing that a matchplay format (where points are awarded for each hole won against the player's opponent) would have been better suited for audiences.

Gary Player thinks Olympic golf format a mistake

Gary Player

'All sports in the Olympics are fast, you don't want medal rounds that are slow, you want matchplay or foursomes, something you can play in under four hours,' said Player. 'It is essential.'

Golf is back in the Olympics after a 112-year absence but its status is not guaranteed beyond the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Player dismayed by golfers Zika excuses

Player, who won 165 tournaments during his professional career, is dismayed by the slew of top male golfers including Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day who have opted to skip the games, citing the mosquito-borne Zika virus as a concern.

'They don't want to promote golf, they don't realise how lucky they are, they don't realise what the Olympic Games mean to the sport,' Player said.

'I would have given anything to play. I would have rowed over to play.'

South Africa's hopes of striking golf gold in Rio have also suffered from withdrawals, with Branden Grace and Charl Schwartzel both pulling out over Zika.

Louis Oosthuizen pulled out over 'family and scheduling' issues.

Player is unimpressed by players citing Zika as a reason not to play, noting a recent outbreak in Florida where many golfers are based.

'You have more chance of getting killed in a motorcar accident or by a gun than by Zika,' he said.

'I see there are 10 cases of Zika in Miami, does that mean all the pros are going to move out of Florida and go live somewhere else?'