Harrington set for Olympics after McDowell withdrawal

Padraig Harrington will get to live his dream of stepping out onto the golf course as an Olympian after fellow Irishman Graeme McDowell became the latest in a string of high-profile players to withdraw from Rio this August.

Rory McIlroy pulled out of the grand event on Wednesday after citing he was concerned about the Zika virus, while McDowell’s wife is due to give birth around the same time of the Olympics and he doesn’t want to miss it.

Harrington, 44, has three major titles under his belt and is now poised to link up with countryman Shane Lowry in an event which will see golf return to the Olympic stage for the first time in 112 years.

There is little chance that Harrington will decide he too does not want to compete after revealing his desire to play in the event during the Dunhill Links Championship at Carnoustie two years ago when he was down in 324th place in the World Rankings.

“I don’t normally tell the media my goals, but I will this time and my aim is to return to the top 15 of the world by 2016 for the Olympics,” he said. “I’d just love to be an Olympic athlete; it would be very special.”

Harrington might still be struggling for form, currently sitting 167th in the World Rankings – the withdrawals of those around him will no doubt give him a huge boost of confidence.

“Based on the current ranking points I am next in line for automatic selection to the Irish Olympic team. I will work very hard over the next few weeks to achieve this selection as it would be a huge honour for me to represent Ireland, having played an active role in golf's bid to be re-included in the Olympic Games programme," Harrington said shortly after hearing the news about McDowell’s withdrawal.

McDowell has always stated that family affairs would come first in his Olympic decision. The 2010 US Open champion said: “I made the decision many months ago, before I was on the team, that I would not play or travel outside the US, where my family and I live, in the weeks running up to the birth.

“Unfortunately I will therefore not be available to replace Rory on the team. I have informed Paul McGinley and the Olympic Council of Ireland of my decision."

Keep up to date with all the latest news & videos
Latest News
  • OnlineGolf News: Ian Woosnam inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame

    Woosnam is a highly-decorated player, having won the Masters in 1991, the European Order of Merit on two occasions, and captained Europe to Ryder Cup victory in 2006...
    Read more

  • OnlineGolf News: Japan set to host PGA Champions tournament

    The PGA Tour is set to sanction a Champions tournament in Tokyo next year. The move marks the first time a PGA Tour event has ever been sanctioned in Japan...
    Read more

  • OnlineGolf News: Is Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston the latest Halloween costume craze for kids?

    Kids dressing up as him for Halloween? Even Beef himself didn’t see that one coming!
    Read more

Latest Videos
  • PING Pro Louis Oosthuizen and iBlade -Video

    The inspiring new iBlade iron is distinguished by the softest, purest feel we’ve ever achieved in an iron, with the workability and control to shape shots on command.
    Read more

  • PING Vault Putters | Precision Milled to Perfection -Video

    Precision-milled PING Vault putters draw inspiration from our legendary Gold Putter Vault. Players will experience improved putting touch and speed control with the patented True-Roll (TR) face technology, one of the most significant and measurable innovations.
    Read more

  • Nick Faldo shocked to hit the JPX900 Forged 6 iron 190 yards -Video

    A mid-sized, one piece Grain Flow Forged iron that comprehensively ends the normal trade-off between precision and distance. Produced from a stronger Boron infused steel billet – the JPX900 Forged boasts a milled pocket and new multi thickness face.
    Read more