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Colin Montgomerie: I would never have turned down Olympics because of Zika virus

By Phil Casey

Colin Montgomerie insists the threat of the Zika virus would not have stopped him playing in the Olympics and admits he fears for the sport's future in the Games.

Montgomerie, who was part of the delegation which presented golf's Olympic bid in 2009, also questioned the disparity between the number of men (13) and women (one) to have so far withdrawn, including Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy.

"It is a shame that a number of top players have decided not to go," the 53-year-old said ahead of the Scottish Open.

"If as many ladies were not going, you might have thought that was okay, but it's not, so it's disappointing.

"It's the first time we're back in the Olympics since 1904 and we don't show up. I thought it (Zika) was a disease that affected women more than it did men. There you go."

Asked if such an issue would have stopped him from competing, Montgomerie added: "No. No. I'd have gone and I think Ernie Els said the same thing.

"He's now up for qualification because of the number of South Africans that haven't actually qualified (Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace have all withdrawn).

"I would be honoured to go. The IOC will have a good look at this and think, 'Hang on a minute, what's happened here?'

"From the money that had to be spent to buy the land to build the course to all the stuff that goes on.... it was multi-millions they had to find and then (players) do not show up. If I was in charge, I'd have a second look at it."

Meanwhile, former Open champion Phil Mickelson admits he has no idea how he will perform during his two-week spell in Scotland as he seeks a first win for three years.

Mickelson won the Scottish Open the last time it was held at Castle Stuart in 2013 and followed up with victory in the Open Championship at Muirfield seven days later.

However, that remains the 46-year-old American's last individual victory worldwide and the left-hander arrived in Inverness on the back of a three-week spell which has summed up his season so far.

Mickelson finished in second place in the FedEx St Jude Classic before missing the cut in the US Open - the elusive Major he needs to win to complete a career Grand Slam - and was a distant 27th in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron last week.

Asked how he felt his game was shaping up ahead of next week's Open at Royal Troon, Mickelson said: "That's a tough question for me to answer because I've had such an inconsistent year.

"I've had some really good finishes and some missed cuts, and usually I have not had that type of fluctuation.

"I feel that, after around six months now of really working hard, the swing is where I want it to be.

"I feel like I can take that final step of trying to score and shoot a number and hit intricate shots - get those little details of flying a ball a couple of yards shorter or longer than I want to and things like that. I think that's starting to come.

"But it's hard to say when it's all going to click. I hope it clicks this week.

"I don't feel like it's too far off, but I've been saying that for a while now."

Belfast Telegraph


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