PEBBLE BEACH, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland looks on from the second tee during the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at the Pebble Beach Golf Links on February 8, 2014 in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

 

Graeme McDowell has announced he will not be replacing Rory McIlroy in Ireland’s Olympic team for the Games in Rio later this summer.

World No 73 McDowell was the next in line to come into the team alongside Shane Lowry after world No 4 McIlroy said on Wednesday that he would not travel to Brazil because of concerns over the Zika virus.

But 2010 US Open winner McDowell has revealed he does not want to play in Rio because his wife is due to give birth a couple of weeks after the Games.

“I woke yesterday morning to the news that Rory McIlroy had withdrawn from the Irish Olympic Golf team, putting me in line for an automatic spot on the team,” McDowell said in a statement on Thursday lunchtime.

“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.

“I made the decision many months ago, before I was on the team, that I would not play or travel outside the US, where I and my family 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.”

Reacting to McDowell’s statement, the International Golf Federation said: “We recognise the unique circumstances for Graeme and his family and, while we are disappointed that he is not available for the Olympic Games, we sympathise with his position.

“There are many considerations for players but those who compete will have the opportunity to be part of a truly global celebration of sport.”