Golfers "have a responsibility to the greater game" to compete in Rio

David Walsh spoke to Newstalk Breakfast about the latest pull-outs

Golf, Zika, Olympics, Rio, McIlroy, Lowry, David Walsh

Picture by: David J. Phillip / AP/Press Association Images

Three Irish golfers have now turned down the chance of representing Ireland at the Olympic Games this summer.

Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry have all turned down the chance to compete in Brazil. McIlroy and Lowry have both turned down their chances due to the Zika virus, while McDowell's wife is expecting theie second child.

David Walsh, has become a critic of the decisions of golfers to miss the Olympic Games. The Sunday Times Chief Sports Writer spoke to Newstalk Breakfast about the ever increasing number of players pulling out of the event.

"The Zika virus has in part, influenced their decision. Their own playing schedules has in part, influenced their decision because it comes directly after two major and before the very lucrative FedEx Cup."

Walsh feels that the likes of McIlroy, Lowry and the Australian duo Jason Day and Adam Scott missing the tournament, will not help the sport try and showcase themselves on a global stage.

"This is a sport that is struggling to attract new people. The Olympics offers a window, an opportunity to showcase the game to completely new audiences... If the top players wont go, it won't be effective."

McIlroy would have gone to Brazil as one of Ireland's best medal prospects. Walsh feels it's a missed oppurtunity from both men to write their names into Irish Olympic history.

"We have won two gold medals in the last 60 years. Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry would have had genuine chances. To me it's a huge shame that they are not there."

While many top-ranked male players have pulled out, with many citing the Zika virus as their reason for doing so, it seems to be an issue only effecting the men's side of the game.

"The entire population of women professional golfers who are eligible to play in the Olympics, not one of them has backed out. These are people who could be put off by the risk but they're not."

"I have seen Jordan Spieth say something like he's going to regard this as the fifth major and that he's going to prepare for it like it were a major... Bubba Watson has said he will definitely be there. Dustin Johnson said he will be there."

"I want golf to be more popular. I want more people to play. I want the game to be showcased. I think the top players, given the ludicrous earnings they take from the game, have a responsibility to the greater game."

The men's tournament takes place between August 11th-14th with the women's tournament beginning three days later and concluding on August 20th.