Rory wants Masters ahead of Olympic gold; Harrington takes 100-year view

Rory wants Masters ahead of Olympic gold; Harrington takes 100-year view
 Pádraig Harrington and Shane Lowry are big supporters of golf's return to the Olympic Games

Pádraig Harrington and Shane Lowry are big supporters of golf's return to the Olympic Games

Rory McIlroy says he'd prefer to win the Masters ahead of this year's OIympic Games gold and while his decision to prioritise one over the other makes perfect sense, history will be the final judge.

According to UAE outlet 7Days.ae, the world No3 spoke about the Games at the Abu Dhabi Invitational at Yas Links at the weekend and said: “I would definitely wait another four years for the Olympics if I could get a real shot at the Masters.”

His comments are in line with what he said before the Abu Dhabi two weeks ago.

"I think a major championship is the pinnacle of our sport. I think I'll be remembered for my major championships," McIlroy said. "So all I've dreamed of from a little kid is winning majors. I never dreamed of competing in the Olympics or winning an Olympic medal. So in my mind, a major will always be more important."

Harrington may need a fourth major win to make this year's Olympic Games and having helped the IGF campaign for the return of golf to the games, he is understandably keen to back the decision.

A 3D impression of the Rio golf course

"I spoke to get golf into the Olympics so I have always been a big fan of it," Harrington said at the recent Carr Golf sponsored Irish Golf Writers' Association annual dinner and awards.

Sitting next to Shane Lowry, who has bumped him out of the running for a place in Rio, Harrington smiled and said: "At the time, I thought I was going to be an Olympian! 

"It could happen, but it is a big, long shot. I'd love to be an Olympic athlete and call myself an Olympic athlete. I think it is great for golf we are in the Olympics but ultimately, yes winning a gold medal in the Olympics this year is not as big as winning a major, but in 100 years' time it may be bigger.

"Majors 100 years ago weren't what they are now. Times change. So I think people are wrong to judge it on this year. All the tennis players will tell you that when it first went into the Olympics, they weren't interested and now it is a big deal. And it will grow and that is what will happen to golf.

 Shane Lowry gives an impromptu interview to journalists Cathal Dervan, Dermot Gilleece and Philip Quinn at the Irish Golf Writers' Association's awards dinner at Castleknock Golf Club on January 21, 2016

Shane Lowry gives an impromptu interview to journalists Cathal Dervan, Dermot Gilleece and Philip Quinn at the Irish Golf Writers' Association's awards dinner at Castleknock Golf Club on January 21, 2016

"In 40 years' time and Olympic gold medal could be bigger than a major and your career will be judged on it. it is not judged on it today for sure but it time, it may be. The fact is that golf in the Olympics is good for golf and it is also good for the Olympics to have a game like golf there.

"I know some players dissent but I don't think they are seeing the bigger picture down the road that it could be a big deal in 40 years' time."

Lowry brought the house down when he said. he'd be proud to walk out at the opening ceremony "with the Irish tracksuit on."

He then added: "I am a proud Irishman and to go and compete under my national flag would be amazing. Just the whole experience of the thing — staying in the Olympic Village, watching the other events and hanging around with the other athletes — it would be something you could definitely tell the grandkids."