It's difficult to make it from sunrise to sunset these days without a professional golfer withdrawing from the Rio Olympics, citing the Zika virus. Shane Lowry this week followed the lead of Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen in deciding not to compete at the Games.
Golf always seemed an odd addition to the competition, particularly coming at the time of the year it does: sandwiched between the Open and the US PGA. Golf is also a sport which favours venerable competitions of great tradition, meaning this new-fangled Olympics business was in danger of not catching on.
The theory goes that the top golfers are merely using Zika as an excuse to avoid committing to the competition, given the likelihood of contracting the virus, along with the fact that Rory McIlroy, for one, had no issue in holidaying in Zika-threatened Barbados. Still, given the virus has a potentially serious impact upon family life - has been linked to defects in newborn babies and Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis in adults - it is entirely understandable if top golfers believed playing at the Games were not worth the risk.
One golfer who does believe it's worth the risk, however, is Cavan's Leona Maguire, who has confirmed her desire to compete at the Games. The top 60 in the world will qualify for the game, with Maguire currently ranked at 48. Maguire said the following on the Ray D'arcy show on RTE Radio One this afternoon:
From everything they are saying, there is a 5% risk, from a 90% risk earlier on in the year.
To represent your country at the Olympics, I think it’s worth that 5% risk.
It’s disappointing for the people of Ireland that we have some of the best players in the world and they are not going.
It’s a complete honour and privilege to be going.
I’d give my right arm to go to Rio to get the chance at a gold medal...The athletes that are going are 100% committed.
Maguire will have her twin sister Lisa as her caddy, and described the potential feeling of winning Olympic gold as comparable to Cavan winning the All-Ireland.