Rory McIlroy has questioned whether there is much to look forward to for him at the Olympics, adding that he is taking part in the Games because it is “the right thing to do”.
The Northern Irishman was speaking on Sunday after finishing 15 shots behind winner Collin Morikawa in The Open at Royal St. George’s.
“I am not a very patriotic guy,” he said when asked if going to Tokyo amid the Covid-19 pandemic was a test of his patriotism.
“I am doing it because I think it is the right thing to do. I missed it last time and for golf to be an Olympic sport you need your best players there, and I feel like I want to represent the game of golf more than anything else.
“I don’t know if there is much to look forward to, it is obviously going to be a very different environment.
“I am looking forward to getting another week’s golf in and trying to get my game in shape. There is not much else to do there so 12 hours a day on the golf course, hopefully I get my game in a bit better shape.”
McIlroy, who pulled out of the 2016 Olympics in Rio because of health concerns about the Zika virus, will represent Ireland with Shane Lowry at the Games, which get underway on 23 July.
Two South African footballers have become the first competitors to test positive for coronavirus in the athletes’ Olympic Village in Tokyo, while six athletes and two staff members from Team GB’s athletics team are self-isolating after being identified as close contacts of an individual who tested positive on their flight to Japan on 16 July.
“I’ve travelled all over the world since this thing [the Covid-19 pandemic] started and I don’t know how I haven’t got it due to where I’ve been and the environments I find myself in,” the four-time Major winner continued.
“I’ve done everything that I can to not get it. I’m vaccinated, when I travel, I travel on my own as I have the luxury of doing that.
“I hopefully shouldn’t pick it up on the way then when I get to Tokyo it is just a case of abiding by the rules and protocols, and trying to not get it so that your stay there is only seven days.”
McIlroy ‘needs to avoid the mistakes’
McIlroy’s latest bid to add to his four Major wins ended with him shooting 71 in Sunday’s final round, meaning he finished on level par for the tournament after barely threatening the leaders throughout the four days.
He appeared philosophical about his performance, saying that poor decision-making and mistakes were to blame for his failure to challenge for the title.
“It was very up and down. I think I’ve made 17 birdies which is probably more than enough to contend. You look at the leaders and they are making four or five bogeys through three days but I was up at 12 and then another three bogeys today,” he explained.
“I keep saying that the good stuff is in there, I make enough birdies but it is just about trying to avoid the mistakes.
“Whether that is trying to be too aggressive when I put myself in bad positions or if that is just putting myself in bad positions to begin with, that is the next step in the progression.”
Lowry going to Tokyo ‘to win a medal’
In contract to McIlroy’s outlook ahead of the Olympic Games, his Ireland team-mate Shane Lowry, who finished in a tie for 12th at Royal St George’s, said it is a huge honour to represent his country in Tokyo.
“I’m not going on holidays, I’m going to try and win a medal. I’m adamant I want to win an Olympic medal. I think it would be huge for our country and it would be huge for me and my family,” he said.
“I never thought I’d be going to the Olympics, that’s the thing. People asked me about the Olympics a few weeks ago, but your mind isn’t on the Olympics because you have big events like this [The Open].
“The Olympics will take a while to get to those levels [of the Masters and the Open]. The Olympics will, at some stage, be as big as these tournaments, and if I go over there and win a medal it will be huge in my mind.
“Who would have thought I’d be going to the Olympics? Especially me, a golfer who isn’t going to be doing the 100m anyway. It’s going to be a cool experience. My brother is coming to caddy for me. He has caddied for me before and has done a good job.”