Rory McIlroy has withdrawn from the Irish team for the Olympic Games in Rio. A statement from McIlroy this morning confirmed his decision to withdraw from the Olympic squad over fears of contracting the Zika virus.
Given McIlroy's status in the game and the likelihood that he would be teaming up with Shane Lowry, there were high hopes of a medal to add to the Irish collection later this year. Those hopes are certainly not dashed but it's a decision that the Irish public will no doubt find hard to stomach after the 'will he, won't he' saga of McIlroy's decision to represent either Ireland or Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the Rio Games.
The statement reads as follows:
Although many will have trouble fully accepting McIlroy's reasoning for pulling out of the Games, he's not the first golfer to do blame fears over Zika. Australia's Marc Leishman last month confirmed that he would not be open to selection over fears surrounding the mosquito spread virus. Similarly, Adam Scott has also withdrawn himself from consideration citing fears over Zika as part of his reasoning, while the South African pair of Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen have also withdrawn from the Games.
With McIlroy having now pulled out, Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell are the current incumbents to fill the two slots available for the Irish team with Padraig Harrington and Seamus Power on standby.
More to follow.