Lee-Anne Pace withdraws from Rio Games because of Zika

FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2013, file photo, Lee Ann Pace, of South Africa, plays a shot off the second tee during the first round of the women's Lacoste Open in Saint Jean de Luz, southwestern France. Pace has withdrawn her name from consideration for her nation's Olympic team out of concern about the Zika virus. Pace, ranked No. 38th in the world, is the first player on the LPGA tour to cite Zika for sitting out of the Rio Games. (AP Photo/Bob Edme, File)

(AP) — Lee-Anne Pace of South Africa has withdrawn her name from consideration for her nation’s Olympic team out of concern about the Zika virus.

Pace, ranked No. 38th in the world, is the first player on the LPGA tour to cite Zika for sitting out of the Rio Games. Several men, including Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, have decided against the trip to Brazil. Australian Jason Day, the world’s top-ranked player, and Ireland’s Shane Lowry withdrew this week.

Pace, playing this week in the Portland Classic, said she has informed the South African Golf Association, South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee that she has withdrawn her name from consideration for the Olympic team.

The 35-year-old said in a statement that she made the decision after discussing her options with her family and her team.

“I hope that everyone can understand that this was a very difficult decision to come to, however my health and my future family’s health must come first,” she said.

The LPGA said in a statement that it respects an individual player’s decision when it comes to participation in Brazil. Golf is an Olympic sport in Rio after a 112-year absence.

“Playing in the Rio 2016 Olympics is an incredible honor for any athlete, and we are excited for golf’s return to the Games,” the statement said. “We also realize that the Zika virus is a concern for many, particularly for women with plans for a family in the near-term.”

 

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