"Some golfers don't feel that it will add to their career" - Padraig Harrington discusses golf at the Olympics

The three-time major winner spoke to Off The Ball this evening about Shane Lowry's withdrawal from consideration at this summer's Games

BY Cian Roche 20:25 Tuesday 28 June 2016, 20:25 28 Jun 2016

Image: Charlie Riedel / AP/Press Association Images

Much has been made about the re-introduction of golf to the Olympics and while some golfers see it as an honour to represent their the Games, others have decided to withdraw their name from consideration.

For some, like Adam Scott, they don't see it as the pinnacle of the sport and instead have decided to focus on winning Major tournaments.

Others have cited concerns over the Zika virus as their reason for not going, including Rory McIlroy and most recently, Shane Lowry. 

Speaking on tonight's Off The Ball, three time major winner Padraig Harrington discussed the issue of golfers pulling out of the Olympics.

"Obviously bad news for Irish golf that Shane [Lowry] has pulled out, but I think of all the people you could look at in the world of sport nobody would want to play for his country more than Shane," he began.

"Ultimately I think there's more than one person making the decision for a lot of golfers, because the majority of golfers are married with young families or starting families."

In the case of Lowry, the Offaly man has recently married his partner Wendy Honner and said in a statement today that he is looking to start a family "in the near future", prompting him to avoid the Olympics for fear of contracting the virus.

Zika is dangerous to pregnant women as it can cause birth defects to children in utero. Microcephaly has been linked with the virus. 

However, in the case of some other golfers, Harrington claims that a lot don't consider the Games as beneficial to their careers.

"Yes, there are other golfers who don't rate the Olympics like they do Majors. There are 16 Majors between each Olympics, so one Olympics is not a big deal to a lot of players.

"But look at the tennis. A lot of players didn't want to play that when it started off, but now it's a much bigger event. Give it time and it will grow on the players.

"Another thing with the golfers is that we have a much longer career. It's not guaranteed with a lot of athletes that their career will surpass one Olympics. But with golf a career lasts 20 years so some players can play three or four or five."

He continued to explain that, despite the Olympics held during the winter in Brazil when less and less mosquitoes are around, that the difference in venue should also be acknowledged for the fact that golfers will be competing outdoors.

"I think what you're missing with the golf is that the players are not individuals. They're married and their wives are home saying you know 'This is crazy, you're not putting the family first'. 

"At the end of day, it doesn't matter who you are, you can never been seen not to put your family first. But I will agree that there are players who are not interested in the Olympics. 

"There are some who don't see the Olympics as a big deal and some who do. You have to understand as well, it's not adding to their careers at the moment. Clearly, in the ladies sense, maybe they feel like being an Olympic athlete is adding to their careers.

"There's no doubt that you'll find in cases of the 16 golfers that pulled out because they're just not interested. But some of them are scared for the fact that they have families and that's valid."


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