Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland joined the growing list of players who will not play in the Olympic Games in August.
One day after McIlroy said he would not play for Ireland because of the Zika virus fears, McDowell said he would not take Rory’s place because his wife is pregnant and due to give birth within two weeks after the Games.
“After much thought and deliberation, I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro,” said McIlroy, who at No. 4 in the World Golf Rankings is the highest-ranked golfer to say he will not play in Rio.
“After speaking with those closest to me, I’ve come to realize that my health and my family’s health comes before anything else. Even though the risk of infection from the Zika virus is considered low, it is a risk nonetheless and a risk I am unwilling to take.
“I trust the Irish people will understand my decision.”
McIlroy, 27, has said he and his fiancee, Erica Stoll, might consider starting a family in the next few years.
McDowell was next in line to play for Ireland.
“As many within golf will know, my wife Kristin is pregnant and is due to have our second child just a couple of weeks after the Olympic Golf competition concludes,” McDowell said. “I made the decision many months ago, before I was on the team, that I would not play or travel outside of the U.S., where I and my family live, in the weeks running up to the birth.”
At this point, Shane Lowry and Padraig Harrington would represent Ireland.
Others who have said the will not play in Rio are Adam Scott and Marc Leishman of Australia, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Shwartzel of South Africa and Vijay Singh of Fiji.