June 30.2016

Clarkedaz 23

Darren Clarke, Europe's Ryder Cup captain, has expressed fears over the impact of golf at the Olympics this year.

Clarke, who was hosting the Costa Smeralda Invitational last week before heading to the French Open, said players from both sides of the Atlantic were facing busy summers and would be lacking proper time off ahead of the Ryder Cup if they played in Rio.

"Everything has become much more condensed for them because of the Olympics," said Clarke. "The requirements on players has become far more intense."

"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. Personally I'd like the guys as fresh as possible for the Ryder Cup."

Clarke added that the criticism heaped on players such as Rory McIlroy for missing the Olympics this year is "harsh".

McIlroy cited his fears over the Zika virus as his reason for missing the Games and Clarke said: "He [McIlroy] is looking forward to becoming a father and having kids, so I think the criticism levelled towards him is very harsh. 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. Golfers are making their decisions based on family lives. And at the moment, a gold medal in golf at the Olympics is not like a major."

"For me personally golf at the Olympics is not my thing. For me the Olympics is all about Daley Thompson and Carl Lewis, amateur sportsmen at the pinnacle of their career. But I can understand why it is there now and it is wonderful to increase participation. But I am old school.Thankfully I'm old enough that I didn't have to make that decision [to play in the Olympics]. I didn't have to make a decision on who I was going to play for and if I was going to play."

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