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Rio Olympics: Padraig Harrington slams stay-away stars

By Phil Casey

Padraig Harrington has branded some of those who stayed away from the Rio Olympic golf tournament as "sheep" after shooting a solid opening one-under 70.

Revealing that he is getting daily texts from '56 Olympic champion, Ronnie Delany, Harrington is adamant that the players who qualified for the Games but chose not to travel to Brazil will ultimately regret the decision.

Read more: Rio Olympics 2016: Live blog, full events schedule and medals tables

Asked if they mis-read the situation, he reflected "I think completely, yeah. There's a few conscientious objectors who just don't see why professional golf is in the Olympics. If that's your opinion, that's fine.

"I would have to say there was a lot of sheep in this decision. They kept just following each other out the door. It's hard to believe. It's a perfect time in the schedule. The four Majors are over, what else is there to play for this year?

"There's four Majors and you've got the Olympics. There is no point in saving yourself for anything else."

Britain's Justin Rose ensured golf returned to the Olympics in spectacular fashion with a hole-in-one on the first day of competition in Rio.

Rose holed out from 191 yards on the fourth to augment a tremendously positive reintroduction to the Games - despite some of the top players pulling out, including Rory McIlroy.

Brazil's Adilson da Silva had struck the first shot since 1904 in front of a sparse crowd but the number of spectators swelled.

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