Van Zyl: Zika an excuse, but I’m going for gold

South African golfer Jaco van Zyl believes that the world's top-ranked golfers are using the Zika virus as a convenient excuse for avoiding the olympics, but is determined to capitalize by securing a gold medal.

The 37-year-old from Pretoria, ranked 71 in the world, has seen Australian world number one Jason Day drop out along with other top-four seeded stars Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, and Rory McIlroy.

The Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness that spread to epidemic levels in Brazil this year, has been cited as a reason for avoiding the games, but van Zyl believes the virus is being used as an excuse.

"Honestly, I can't feel that the Zika virus would be their reason not to go, the Zika virus is in Florida," he said, via Reuters.

"I think they have got other reasons for not wanting to participate and the Zika virus is a very convenient way for them to get out of it."

This year's games in Rio de Janeiro will be the first time since 1904 that golf will feature at the Olympics, and van Zyl is hoping to use the absence of fellow South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, who also chose to skip the games, as the perfect opportunity to go for gold himself.

"If I can choose one (a major championship win or an Olympic gold medal) I would definitely take the gold," he added. "The reason being that there are four majors every year and one Olympic gold medallist in 112 years."

Round one of the golf event is set to take place on Thursday, the 11th of August.