South Africa’s Jaco van Zyl has taken the unprecedented decision to withdraw from the Open Championship at Royal Troon next week and the US PGA Championship at Baltusrol at the end of July to recharge his batteries.
Speaking from his home in Benoni, the world No65 said he would be spending the next five weeks at home, working on his game in preparation for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August.
‘I was really starting to feel the effects of a very packed schedule at the French Open last week,’ Van Zyl explained.
‘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 wasn’t a decision I took lightly, but something had to give and I decided to forego the Majors in July in favour of the Olympics.
‘I expect that 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 sports’ 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 2020. To be part of the first South African team at the Olympics is a massive honour and I owe it to SASCOC, Gary Player, South Africa, Paula (Reto), Ashleigh (Simon) and the player who will be joining me in the men’s competition to be at my best.’
Picture of Van Zyl courtesy of Sunshine Tour