Rory McIlroy insists he will take this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio seriously as he fears he may only get two chances to win a gold medal.
Golf will be included in the Olympics for the first time since 1904 this year, although it has been somewhat met by an attitude of indifference from many of the game’s leading players.
Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Vijay Singh have already pulled out of the competition, amid questions regarding its importance, while Singh also expressed concerns about the Zika virus.
McIlroy has previously admitted a major championship was more important to him than a gold medal, but when asked why he was competing in Brazil, he replied: “Two reasons – Because of how it’s being approached in golf circles, it’s being played in Rio this year and Tokyo in 2020, I’m not sure if we’re going to have another opportunity to win a gold medal after that, depending on what happens.
“The second thing – Paul McGinley is the Irish team captain and he is so into it. He’s more into it than I am quite honestly, but because he is, I would feel like I am not only letting him down, I’d let the country down as well. Paul is a very close friend of mine and if I didn’t play I’d let him down big time.
“That’s why I want to go and give it my best shot. I’m going to get all my shots next week from the doctor on site at the Players (Championship), get my shots for Zika and everything else I need and go play four rounds really competitively and try to win a gold medal.”
World number seven Scott has previously said winning an Olympic medal was nothing he “ever aspired to do” and labelled the 72-hole strokeplay format an “exhibition event”.
However, speaking to the media ahead of his defence of the Wells Fargo Champions, McIlroy added.: “I don’t know how that will stack up against the other things I’ve done in my career now, but maybe I might look back in 20 years’ time and a gold medal might be one of my crowning achievements in the game. You never know,” he added.
“It’s an opportunity to do something you’ve never done before. I get that a lot of players aren’t playing because of family matters and other things, but while I don’t have those issues of a family it’s a good opportunity. If nothing else it will be a great experience.”