Rio 2016: Will the withdrawal of the "big four" affect the quality of golf at the Olympics?

A number of golf stars did not travel to Brazil due to the threat of the Zika virus.

Rio 2016: Will the withdrawal of the "big four" affect the quality of golf at the Olympics?
Willett and Stenson will both be eyeing medals (photo : Getty Images)

All of the "big four" and two more of the top ten in Branden Grace and Adam Scott have dropped out of the Rio Olympics citing the ongoing Zika threat virus and their scheduling as the reasons behind their withdrawals.

An inconsistent season for the top names

On paper, the decisions would suggest that the quality of the competition would be weaker when the men's golf tournament begins on Thursday, yet some may argue that it will add to the entertainment and unpredictability of an already exciting return to golf.

Many of those missing have not enjoyed the greatest of seasons. Both Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlory have seriously struggled for form and consistency this season, with the former not being a force since he threw away his lead in the Masters and the latter hardly threatening a Major leaderboard.

Dustin Johnson has faired better, adding the US Open and Bridgestone Invitational to his name, whilst World number one Jason Day has won various competitions but will end the season without a Major in his trophy cabinet this season.

Major winners will be present in Rio

Two of the four Major winners will be in Rio, with Great Britain's Danny Willett and Swedish favourite Henrik Stenson looking to add to their already impressive seasons. They will be joined by the American quad of Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed and Matt Kuchar who are top class players in their own right. Add in the experienced Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose and you have an intriguing blend of competitors set to take to the course in Rio. 

If the talent possessed by those who have made the trip is not proof in itself hat the men's competition will be an exciting contest, there is no doubt that the pride of representing a nation and looking to earn an Olympic medal will spur these players on. Some, particularly the Americans, have a point to prove to their doubters and Rio 2016 could provide the stage for them to silence the critics.