Padraig Harrington ready for 'huge honour' of representing Ireland at the Rio Olympics
Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington will join Offaly's Shane Lowry in representing Ireland at the Olympic Games in Rio in August.
The Dubliner had been fourth in line to make the four-man team but has been catapulted in after both Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell withdrew themselves from consideration of the Zika virus threat.
McDowell, the 2010 US Open champion, was next in line for qualification for the Irish team following the withdrawal of McIlory, who cited concerns over the Zika virus.
However, the 36-year-old insists he had already made a decision not to go to Rio de Janeiro as his wife is pregnant and due to give birth around the same time as the Games in Brazil.
Harrington is more than happy to fill the void left by McIlroy and McDowell and attempt to bring home a medal for Ireland.
“Based on the current ranking points I am next in line for automatic selection to the Irish Olympic Team for Rio 2016. I will work very hard over the next few weeks to achieve this selection as it would be a huge honour for me to represent Ireland at the Olympic Games, having played an active role in golf’s bid to be re-included in the Olympic Games programme," Harrington said.
The International Golf Federation noted the "unique circumstances" leading to McDowell's withdrawal.
"We recognise the unique circumstances for Graeme and his family and, while we are disappointed that he is not available for the Olympic Games, we sympathise with his position," it said in a statement.
"There are many considerations for players but those who compete will have the opportunity to be part of a truly global celebration of sport."