• Says criticism of the 27-year-old is 'very harsh'
• Clarke wants Rory as fresh as possible for the Ryder Cup
RORY MCILROY | DARREN CLARKE
Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke has said criticism directed at Rory McIlroy for his decision to skip the Olympics is ‘very harsh’.
Speaking ahead of hosting the Costa Smeralda Invitational in Sardinia, the 2011 Open champion also revealed he spoke to the four-time major winner prior to his announcement and backed his decision 100%.
“He is looking forward to becoming a father and having kids, so I think the criticism levelled towards him is very harsh,” said Clarke, who is currently attending the Costa Smeralda Invitational with several other stars to raise money for charity. “We don’t know enough about the virus and right now he’s doing what he feels is best as each and what every athlete in every other sport is entitled to do.
“I know Rory McIlroy very well, I spoke to him on Monday about it before he made his announcement. It’s a difficult one, they’ve got a very busy summer and because the Olympics are in there, things are going to get much more condensed and because of that the requirements on the players is much more intense.”
Two Irish Olympians hit out at Rory McIlroy’s decision to skip the Games. Sailor Annalise Murphy told the Independent: “The Olympics are my dream, I've been working the last few years of my life for this. Most athletes would be the same.”
While boxer Darren O’Neill felt the decision was more down to McIlroy’s reluctance to represent the Republic of Ireland.
I have cried tears & spilled blood in trying to qualify for Rio. This affirms my opinions. We are better w/o him!! https://t.co/kzjxKQfKFr
— Darren O'Neill (@DarrenONeil) June 22, 2016
From a selfish point of view, Clarke also revealed that he supported Rory McIlroy’s decision so the 27-year-old could be in the best shape possible heading into the Ryder Cup later this year at Hazeltine.
“Guys might like to have a week off or whatever they need to do, but because the Olympics are there now, that opportunity is taken away from them,” said Clarke. "Personally I’d like the guys as fresh as possible for the Ryder Cup."
“The Olympics is different for us because whilst a gold medal is an unbelievable achievement, it’s not an Open Championship, it’s not a Masters, a US Open or a US PGA Championship. They’re our majors and in time, the Olympics will be too. That takes a bit of time and at the moment those guys are making decisions based on their family lives and you have to respect that.”
Rory McIlroy :: The right decision?
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