The hopes of South Africa bringing home a gold medal in golf took another hit when Charl Schwartzel became the second major champion from his country to indicate he'll be skipping the Olympics.
Louis Oosthuizen stated last week that he will pass on his spot this summer in Rio, a decision that meant Schwartzel was next in line to represent South Africa alongside Branden Grace. But the former Masters champ will also skip golf's return to the Olympics because of a "tight schedule."
Schwartzel's withdrawal was confirmed by Ty Votaw, vice president of the International Golf Federation.
The decisions from Oosthuizen and Schwartzel did not sit well with Selwyn Nathan, the executive director of the South Africa-based Sunshine Tour.
"They will regret later why they didn't go to the Olympics," Nathan said. "But I believe they are both big boys who make their own decisions."
Schwartzel's withdrawal was also noticed by Gary Player, who tweeted a lengthy statement Monday discussing his displeasure with top-ranked players skipping the quadrennial event as golf returns to the Olympics for the first time since 1904.
"I would have given anything to play in the Olympics," Player wrote. "South Africa had a great team, but now obviously, it will not be as good. Players withdrawing hurt the game of golf."
Oosthuizen is No. 13 in the latest world rankings, while Schwartzel is No. 20 having won earlier this year at the Valspar Championship. With both players skipping the Olympics, the second South African roster spot now falls to Jaco Van Zyl at No. 59, with 85th-ranked George Coetzee also in the mix.
Player will coach the South African team this summer in Rio, and he views the Olympics as an opportunity for top-ranked players to help grow the game on a global level.
"Many people fought tooth-and-nail for decades to get golf back into the Olympic Games, a true worldwide effort," Player wrote. "Golf is one of the most popular sports in the world, and our best players should be showcased on the biggest stage in sports. Luckily, we will still have four more years to make sure the best players see this importance and commit to play in Tokyo, Japan."