While there may be more golfers who drop out of the Olympics, David Hearn and Graham DeLaet won’t be among them.
The two Canadians reaffirmed their intent to go to Rio to represent Canada this week in the wake of a flurry of dropouts that included world No. 1 Jason Day.
“I’m looking forward to being a part of the team and playing in the Olympics,” said Hearn from his home in Brantford, Ont. “I’m a little disappointed to see the top names pull out, but everyone has to make a choice for themselves and their family, and I respect that.”
“I think it’s a pretty special opportunity,” DeLaet told Ottawa radio station TSN 1200.
At 122nd in the world, Hearn is the top-ranked Canadian male golfer. DeLaet is ranked 139th and barring a big week from Adam Hadwin, who sits 179th, they’ll be the duo that plays for Canada in golf’s return to the Games after 112 years. The team will be finalized on July 11.
Hearn said he’s been getting lots of updates on a variety of concerns with Rio. The PGA Tour, Canadian Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee have provided information on everything from safety to the Zika virus.
It’s that last item that’s been given as the reason for most of the withdrawals, with players from Rory McIlroy to Day saying they didn’t want to take any risks.
Hearn said that while he understands those positions, he believes Zika won’t be as big an issue as many are making it out to be.
“The risks over the Zika virus have been a little overdone in the media in my opinion,” he said. “I know Rio is heading into its winter season, so that lessens the number of mosquitos, too.”
“I think this could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and to represent Canada, there’s nothing more special,” said DeLaet, who also wondered if golf’s position as an Olympic sport might be in jeopardy due to the pull-outs of the high-profile male players.
As the presumptive golfers for Canada at the Olympics, both Hearn and DeLaet have been subject to random drug testing. Part of their duties has been to give the COC a detailed itinerary of their whereabouts at all times. Hearn said not long after he arrived back in Brantford after last week’s Quicken Loans, he was visited by two drug testers looking for a sample.
“You get used to it,” he chuckled. “We have drug testing on tour too, so there aren’t any surprises.”
Hearn’s pre-Olympic schedule was altered when the Greenbrier Classic was cancelled this week due to severe flooding in the area. Last year, the Canadian golfer lost in a playoff at that tournament. However, he said the Tour made the right decision in deciding not to hold it.
“The pictures looked pretty severe,” he said. “I think it would be hard to justify wasting all the man hours getting the course in shape when those people could be helping with more serious things.”
Even without that tournament, DeLaet and Hearn will be ready for the Olympics. They’ve been getting lots of information from Derek Ingram, Team Canada’s men’s coach, who has made visits to the course in Rio to survey the course. They’re both confident they’ll put forth a great showing representing Canada.
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