Former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen announced last week he would not turn out at the multi-sport showpiece, citing “family and schedule issues”, and Player confirmed on Monday that former Masters winner Charl Schwartzel had also made himself unavailable for the South African squad.
“They have been playing outstanding golf lately,” the 80-year-old skipper, a nine-time Major winner, said in a statement.
“This certainly impacts South Africa’s chances for a gold medal. No doubt they would have made our team even stronger.”
Oosthuizen dropped one place to 13th in the latest world rankings this week, while Schwartzel remained in 20th place, and they had been among the favourites in line for team selection.
With the duo out, and the team limited to two players, the current favourites for selection are in-form world No 11 Branden Grace and Jaco van Zyl, who is ranked 59th.
Lee-Anne Pace and Paula Reto, both among the top 35 in the Olympic rankings, are the first two women golfers in line for selection, with all national teams to be chosen based on world rankings on July 11.
Golf will return to the Olympic programme in August, for the first time in 112 years.