Ko won't let Zika overshadow Rio dream

 15 Jul 2016 - 0:00

Ko won't let Zika overshadow Rio dream
Lydia Ko does a ball drop on the ninth hole during the final round of the women's 2016 US Open golf tournament at CordeValle Golf Club. (Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)


Wellington: World number one Lydia Ko says she's too excited about playing golf at the Olympic Games to worry about the Zika virus -- and most other women on tour feel the same.

The top men's golfers have pulled out of the Games in Rio de Janeiro, many citing Zika health concerns, prompting questions about the sport's return to the Olympics after 112 years.

But Ko, 19, said she trusted the advice of health experts and was thrilled at the prospect of becoming an Olympian for New Zealand.

"I'm more excited about the Olympics, about the ceremony, about just being part of the Olympic vibe than worrying about the Zika virus," she told AFP.

"There are so many experts that are taking care of all that... we've just got to trust them."

The two-time major winner said other women golfers were similarly excited.

"To all the girls that I've talked to, that's kind of the response," Ko said in the pre-Olympic interview that preceded Jordan Spieth's withdrawal this week from the men's event.

"We're all excited to go to Brazil and represent our countries and be there amongst the other Olympians.

"It's unfortunate with what's happening with the Zika, but we all trust the people that are taking care of it," she told AFP in the June interview, before she went public with her views.

Ko made similar comments ahead of this week's LPGA Marathon Classic in Ohio, saying: "If it was so dangerous that we couldn't compete... I'm sure they would pull us off."

World number one Jason Day of Australia, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama are among the other top men who are not participating.

McIlroy gave a blunt assessment this week of the Olympics' place in the pecking order for male golfers, saying he probably would not even watch the Rio tournament.

When asked what he would tune into during the Games, McIlroy added: "Probably the events like track and field, swimming, diving, the stuff that matters."