Rio 2016: Lee-Anne Pace is first female golfer to pull out of Olympics

Lee-Anne Pace
Lee-Anne Pace won the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit in 2010

South Africa's world number 38 Lee-Anne Pace has become the first female golfer to withdraw from this summer's Olympics, citing fears over the Zika virus.

Several leading male players, including Jason Day and Rory McIlroy, have already announced they will not be playing in Rio.

Pace, 35, said she had been weighing up whether to compete over recent months.

"My health and my future family's health must come first," she said.

"I was very much looking forward to the opportunity but I have decided that due to the health concerns surrounding the Zika virus, I will not be participating."

Zika is mosquito-borne and has been linked to defects in newborn babies, prompting those looking to start a family to take extra precautions.

Olympic chiefs and the World Health Organization have advised athletes and visitors to Rio that the risk of catching Zika is low.

But McIlroy, who has defended his decision, and Day have joined other high-profile players, including Ireland's Shane Lowry, Australia's Marc Leishman, Fiji's Vijay Singh, South Africa's Branden Grace and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell, in withdrawing.

Golf is making its Olympic return in 2016 following a 112-year absence.

Lee-Anne Pace Twitter
Lee-Anne Pace announced her withdrawal to her fans on Twitter