Van Zyl, who has also pulled out of the US PGA Championship at Baltusrol, qualified for the South Africa team only after Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace withdrew their names from consideration. The world No65 described the Games as the “pinnacle of all sporting events” and cited fatigue from a busy season as the reason behind his decisions.
“I was really starting to feel the effects of a very packed schedule at the French Open last week,” Van Zyl told the South African Golf Association. “I have been at it almost non-stop since I returned to golf last January. I’ve had a jam-packed season this year, including a lot of travelling between continents, and then coming home to the added stress of building a house.
“This was definitely nott a decision I took lightly but something had to give and I decided to forgo the majors in July in favour of the Olympics.
“I expect there will be a camp that will criticise me for withdrawing from the majors but I feel very passionate about golf’s debut at the Olympics. 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 and to have the chance to represent Team South Africa on sport’s biggest stage is an honour I don’t take for granted.
“I need to go to Brazil with the rest of the South African team knowing that I am in peak mental and physical health and that I can give my best over four rounds. The majors will still be there next year but I don’t know if I will get another chance in [the] 2020 [Olympics].”
Donald, currently ranked No83, missed the cut in his first five Open appearances, including the last time the Open was staged at Troon in 2004, but was 12th at St Andrews last year and fifth in both 2012 and 2009.
The American Daniel Summerhays replaces Donald as first reserve at Troon, with his compatriots Jamie Lovemark and Colt Knost next in line.
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