Fri. Jul 12th, 2024

Day set to finally play Olympic golf for Australia

By admin Jun28,2024


Jun 27, 2024, 05:55 PM ET

BRISBANE, Australia — Eight years after turning down his first opportunity, a still-regretful Jason Day will finally make it to an Olympics as part of an Australian golf team that includes a brother-and-sister combination for the Paris Games.

Day was ranked No. 1 in 2016 when he decided not to play at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, saying he was concerned about going to Brazil while the mosquito-borne Zika virus spreading.

“The reason for my decision is my concerns about the possible transmission of the Zika virus and the potential risks that it might present to my wife’s future pregnancies and to future members of our family,” Day said at the time, while spurning a chance to compete in Rio.

He’s sorry he made that choice.

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“I think selfishly I made a decision on my schedule and how I was feeling at the time,” Day said in a telephone conference Friday. “I was emotionally and physically burned out.

“There was a lot on my plate. I was No. 1 in the world. You learn from previous mistakes … but looking back on it, I should have gone. A lot of people would kill for a chance to represent their country.”

The Australian Olympic Committee on Friday said Min Woo Lee would join Day on the men’s team and Minjee Lee and Hannah Green would make up the women’s team.

The Lees are siblings and were both born in Perth, Western Australia. Minjee is 28 and Min Woo is 25. Their parents, Soonam and Clara Lee, migrated from South Korea to Australia in the early 1990s.

Minjee Lee will become the first Australian golfer to compete at three Olympics, Green returns for her second Games while Min Woo Lee will join Day in making his Olympic debut.

The four players all qualified by virtue of their International Golf Federation Olympic ranking at the end of a two-year ranking period. Green and Minjee Lee finished the period ranked seventh and 11th. Day and Min Woo are Australia’s highest-ranked male golfers at 27th and 36th respectively.

Green matched Australia’s best Olympic golf finish with a tie for fifth at Tokyo three years ago and has won two LPGA Tour events this year. Minjee Lee has 10 career LPGA wins.

Jason Day was ranked No. 1 in 2016 when he decided not to play at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. “There was a lot on my plate,” Day said Friday. “You learn from previous mistakes … but looking back on it, I should have gone.” Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire

Day has 13 career PGA Tour wins including a major — the 2015 PGA Championship. Min Woo Lee is the reigning Australian PGA champion and achieved a career-best world ranking of No. 31 in 2024.

Day said his enduring Olympic memories were of the strong swim teams from Australia when he was still at school in Queensland state near Brisbane. And track star Cathy Freeman’s gold medal in the 400-meter race at the Sydney Games in 2000, an iconic Australian sporting moment.

“As a kid growing up, I never thought of the Olympics because golf only became a sport recently,” Day said. “But at the start of the year it was on my list to represent Australia, so it’s nice to accomplish that.”

Although golf featured in a few Olympics in the early 20th century — including at Paris in the second version of the Games in 1900 — it returned more than a 100 years later at Rio.

This year’s Olympic tournament will be played at Le Golf National at Guyancourt near Paris. The men compete from Aug. 1-4 and the women from Aug. 7-10.

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