Tuesday 28 February 2017

Golf's missing superstars are regretting skipping Rio - Padraig Harrington

Vincent Hogan

Vincent Hogan

Padraig Harrington was in buoyant form ahead of the Olympic golf tournament which starts today in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Padraig Harrington was in buoyant form ahead of the Olympic golf tournament which starts today in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Padraig Harrington believes that the superstars who stayed away from golf's first Olympic tournament in 112 years are already regretting it.

The three-time Major winner is the third oldest competitor in a 60-strong field that will tee off on a course cut into the Marapendi Natural Reserve in Rio today and believes he has a fighting chance of collecting gold on Sunday night.

Speaking on the eve of a tournament many believe has been devalued by the decisions of men like Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnston to stay away, Harrington suggested, "I sense that the players at home are pretty quiet on social media, that maybe some of them would like to be here now" he smiled. "And there's no doubt that they're missing out, that's for sure."

After the negativity surrounding the high-profile withdrawals and doubts about golf even holding its Olympic place beyond Tokyo 2020, Harrington believes this may be a uniquely precious opportunity.

"It will be interesting for the athletes who turned down coming here this time, some of them might not get the opportunity again" he said. "You'd be surprised how it does change. For me, this is clearly pretty much the opportunity of a lifetime. Logically will I get another chance in 2020? Probably not.

Irish Independent

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