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Majors are my priorty: Rory

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Rory McIlroy in action during a pro-am round ahead of the 100th Open de France at Le Golf National in Paris,France yesterday. Photo: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy in action during a pro-am round ahead of the 100th Open de France at Le Golf National in Paris,France yesterday. Photo: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy in action during a pro-am round ahead of the 100th Open de France at Le Golf National in Paris,France yesterday. Photo: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy believes the spate of withdrawals from this summer's Olympics is not embarrassing for golf because the Games do not represent the "pinnacle" of the sport.

McIlroy, who is due to marry fiancée Erica Stoll next year, opted out of representing Ireland in Rio after citing his concerns over the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne virus which has been linked to defects in newborn babies and Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis in adults.

World number one Jason Day and US Open runner-up Shane Lowry also withdrew their names from consideration this week, joining a growing list of players which includes Australian pair Marc Leishman and Adam Scott, South African trio Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel and Fiji's Vijay Singh. Graeme McDowell also made himself unavailable as his wife is due to give birth to their second child during the Games.

Speaking ahead of the French Open at Le Golf National, McIlroy said: "I've said to people I have four Olympic Games (major championships) a year. That's my pinnacle. That's what I play for. That's what I'll be remembered for.

"Some people argue that it would have been better to send amateurs there, but the whole reason that golf is in the Olympics is because they wanted the best players to go and compete. But unfortunately with where it is this year, people just aren't comfortable going down there and putting themselves or their family at risk.

"I don't think it's embarrassing for the game because most other athletes dream their whole lives of competing in the Olympics, winning an Olympic Gold, and we haven't. We dream of winning Claret Jugs and we dream of winning green jackets. Whether that makes golf look insular in any way... it's just the way it is."

Although there is no vaccination for Zika, McIlroy recently had the others required to travel to Brazil and said in May he wanted to go and "give it my best shot" while he did not have a family.

The 27-year-old also said he did not want to let down Ireland's golf captain Paul McGinley, whom he spoke to before announcing his withdrawal.

"That was probably one of the toughest phone calls I've had to make, because we've talked about it so much," McIlroy added. "We've done so much work, got accommodation, got security down there, got a chef in, got everything planned out. I got my jabs; I had two dead shoulders for about four days.

"But then at the end of the day, if I'm not 100 per cent comfortable going down there, I just don't want to put it at risk. There's another Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020 and I'm more than happy to wait until then to get that Olympic experience."


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