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Padraig Harrington Has A Very Different Attitude To The Olympics Than Many Other Golfers

Padraig Harrington Has A Very Different Attitude To The Olympics Than Many Other Golfers
By PJ Browne
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When golf was announced as an Olympic sport seven years ago, the immediate thought was that this could be a major medal opportunity for Ireland.

In the intervening years, Rory McIlroy elevated himself to one of the best golfers in the world, Graeme McDowell won a major and Shane Lowry emerged as a possible future major winner. However, all three have withdrawn their names as possible competitors for Ireland at Rio - Shane Lowry just today - citing fears over the Zika virus.

It now means Ireland's likely golfers at the Olympics will be Padraig Harrington and Seamus Power. Paul Dunne is also a possibility.

Not just Irish golfers have pulled out citing the Zika virus as their reason, many are sceptical regarding their genuineness.

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On Monday's Off The Ball, Padraig Harrington spoke about his own candidacy as an Irish Olympic athlete. The withdrawal of McIlroy and McDowell moved him into position.

Pretty good news for me today. Obviously, not good news for Irish golf that Shane has pulled out.

I've got it all booked already. I do have to wait for confirmation and receive my invite to go. You do have to be selected even if you are in that category.

I've looked at it all and can't wait to go. It's a big deal for me. I've won three majors but winning another major wouldn't change the career CV much. Being an Olympic athlete does change that. It would certainly go pretty high up on my career achievements and if I won it, an Olympic gold would go right at the top of it.

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His zest for the Olympics is not just as a competitor, he's also excited about being a spectator.

Also, the whole Zika commotion doesn't bother him

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I'm going to miss the Olympic ceremony because I'm competing the week before. I've committed to play a tournament the week before but I will actually stay on an extra week to go to as many events as I can. I will stay at the Olympic village for the golf and then I will move out. I'm bringing my family. I'm not too worried about the Zika virus and other things. I'm going to go there and take in as much of the experience as I can.

It's a big thing in my house. My wife would watch every minute and every obscure athlete that's out there. For us we've never been to the Olympics or had the chance to go. So this is a big bonus, not only do I get to compete, I get to watch it.

Harrington also defended Shane Lowry's decision to withdraw. He believes Lowry's concerns regarding Zika are real and that his desire to represent Ireland cannot be questioned.

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Of all the guys that you could look at in the world of sport, no one would want to play for his country more than Shane. Nobody would want to go to the Olympics more than Shane.

Ultimately, there's more than one person making a decision for a lot of golfers. The majority of young golfers are married with young families or starting young families. It's quite a different age profile from most of the other athletes where you've got to think 99% of all athletes are single and no going to be worried about these issues.

I don't think anyone could second guess Shane Lowry's patriotism. There's nobody who loves sport and Irish sport more than Shane. Clearly that's not the case with Shane.

You can listen to Harrington on Off The Ball below.

Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

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