Paul McGinley excited for the Olympic experience
Paul McGinley believes competing in the Olympics will be "good for the heart and soul," but concedes today's generation of players may not share his enthusiasm.
As Irish team captain, McGinley has seen both world number four Rory McIlroy and US Open runner-up Shane Lowry withdraw from the Games citing concerns over Zika, a mosquito-borne virus which has been linked to defects in newborn babies and Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome which causes temporary paralysis in adults.
And although he accepts those reasons, McGinley acknowledges that players like McIlroy, Lowry and world number one Jason Day were not involved in the lobbying to secure golf's return to the Games for the first time since 1904.
" I t was a different era," McGinley said. " It was Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington. The players now were not around 10 years ago when these decisions were being made."
The withdrawals of McIlroy and Lowry means Harrington and world number 291 Seamus Power will make up the Irish team and three-time major winner Harrington and his wife Caroline plan to watch as many other sports as possible in Rio after the golf tournament is over.
" It's really good for the heart and the soul to be involved with so many other athletes where it's the most important thing in their game or sport," McGinley added.
"I've had experience of being around Irish athletes who are going to Rio and when you go and listen to them and watch them train and you see the pureness of what they do, golfers can only benefit from that.
"The Olympics is good for the heart and it will really stand them in good stead when they come away and back into the golfing environment again, having experienced other sports and seeing how other people approach it and also bouncing ideas off trainers and all kinds of experts who are going to be down there.
" To be part of the biggest sporting event in the world, to me is an opportunity that I'm certainly looking forward to.
"Okay Padraig is not winning major championships at the moment, but he's going to be a huge addition to the team. The shame for Rory is that I really think he would have benefited from being around the other athletes. I think Padraig is going to come back a better person for it and the Irish team are going to benefit a lot from having Padraig around."
:: Paul McGinley is the captain of the Ballantine's Golf Club, the world's first online golf club - a destination for golf fans worldwide to share in their passion of the game. The Club offers unique online content and exclusive opportunities for members to play the game they love. To join, visit Ballantinesgolfclub.com