Golf is making its return to the Olympics this summer in Rio, which is big for the sport. It will just do so without the best players in the world, which is becoming an alarming issue. Just this week, Jason Day and Shane Lowry both withdrew their names from the games citing the Zika virus, joining a growing list of players that includes Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott, among others.
It's not a good look for golf or the Olympics as a whole, but McIlroy doesn't see it as embarrassing. Why? Because golfers have different aspirations than winning gold.
"I don't think it's embarrassing for the game because most other athletes dream their whole lives of competing in the Olympics, winning an Olympic gold, and we haven't," McIlroy said via the Irish Times. "We dream of winning Claret Jugs and we dream of winning green jackets. Whether that makes golf look insular in any way … it's just the way it is."
McIlroy calls the four major championships he plays in each year his "Olympic games."
"I've said to people I have four Olympic games a year," he said. "That's my pinnacle. That's what I play for. That's what I'll be remembered for.
"Some people argue that it would have been better to send amateurs there, but the whole reason that golf is in the Olympics is because they wanted the best players to go and compete. But unfortunately with where it is this year, people just aren't comfortable going down there and putting themselves or their family at risk."
There's no doubt the Olympics will miss guys like McIlroy and Day, but the competition will still go on. Having Jordan Spieth make the trip south to Rio would be a huge lift, but probably not enough to make up for the loss of the world's No. 1 and No. 4 players.