'We had a very legitimate chance of gold' - Paul McGinley 'disappointed' with Rory McIlroy call
Paul McGinley has expressed his disappointment at the news that Rory McIlroy has opted against representing Ireland at the Rio Olympics over Zika virus fears.
The 27-year-old's withdrawal is a huge blow for the sport's return to the Games after a 112-year absence. McIlroy is the fifth major winner to remove his name from consideration, following Adam Scott, Vijay Singh, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel. The world No 1, Jason Day, is also believed to be on the brink of ruling himself out.
McGinley, who will act as Team Leader for the Irish golf team at the Games, revealed that the world number four contacted him last night to inform him of his decision.
"It's only in the last week to 10 days that he has taken this view. It's obviously disappointing but it is his decision," McGinley told Today on Sean O'Rourke on RTE Radio One.
"It's not something that I as Team Leader can get involved in. It's a personal decision and he's made this decision and we move forward with some new players and new representatives for golf in Ireland at the Olympics.
"It's his decision, it's not for me to influence him. This is a health concern that he has. He's discussed it with his family and his wife-to-be and has came to this conclusion. He notified us last night to say that 'this is the decision I've come to... this is what's going to happen'."
Speaking last month, McIlroy claimed that one reason for competing at Rio was because he didn't want to let McGinley down.
"Paul McGinley is the Irish team captain and he is so into it. He's more into it than I am quite honestly, but because he is, I would feel like I am not only letting him down, I'd let the country down as well. Paul is a very close friend of mine and if I didn't play I'd let him down big time."
Asked if he felt let down, McGinley said: "No, I don't. As as Irishman I'm disappointed, it's not about me. With Rory we had a very legitimate chance of gold. We still have a lot of good players coming behind for us that could win a medal too, hopefully a gold, and we move forward in that direction," he added.
"We have a lot of very strong players who will be representing Ireland and fingers crossed we will come home with a medal."
With McIlroy not travelling to Brazil in August, McGinley stated that Offaly's Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell would now most likely form our men's team for the competition.
"Shane and G-Mac are the next two in at the moment and on the ladies side it looks like Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow but that depends on qualification which has another six weeks to run."