Harrington dismisses golf's silver spoon image: "I’m the son of a policeman, Rory is the son of a barman"

Harrington dismisses golf's silver spoon image: "I’m the son of a policeman, Rory is the son of a barman"
 Pádraig Harrington. Picture: Getty

Pádraig Harrington. Picture: Getty

Golf's image has take another battering over the Rio Olympics and the Zika virus withdrawals but Pádraig Harrington insists that the reality is far different.

The three-time major winner insists that becoming an Olympic champion at the age of 44 is “a big deal” to him.

And he's also keen to stress that the image of golfers as spoilt brats, born with a silver spoon in their mouths, is way off the mark.

The Dubliner has been involved in golf’s return to the Olympic family since he captured his third major in 2008 and he wants Rio to be another high in his career.

“I’ve been involved since the start; I went to the Congress and I spoke – It’s a big deal,” Harrington said at Royal Troon.

“I own three Majors, winning a fourth Major would be nice, but doesn’t really change anything. Winning an Olympic gold medal would be a significant addition to my career CV.”

Harrington was an IGF spokesman at a final presentation to the IOC in Denmark in 2009, joining a 16 year old Matteo Manassero of Italy, Suzann Pettersen of Norway and Michelle Wie of the US. 

“We were nervous – clearly its strange, the world has a terrible perception of golf of being such an exclusive game, but if you look at the field of the 156 pros playing here, you won't find a silver spoon anywhere.

“I’m the son of a policeman, Rory is the son of a barman – the golfers themselves are just the same as other athletes and you have to get that across sometimes.

“I think we will eventually, but just like tennis, it’s a struggle to get there, but hopefully we get there and have a great Olympics and I get a gold medal.”

Harrington will be joined in Rio by PGA Tour bound Seamus Power, amateur Leona Maguire and LPGA player Stephanie Meadow following the withdrawals of McIlroy and Shane Lowry due to the Zika virus and Graeme McDowell’s unavailability.

“This is just a fantastic thing – I’m just really looking forward to it and hopefully I play well,” Harrington said.

“My whole family is going, my kids are going, we’re loving it and trying to organise what we’re going to do, get our tickets for this, that and the other.

“We have some really good boxers, so certainly for atmosphere to see Irish boxers, but this is also a chance to see something you haven’t seen."

Harrington said he was inspired growing up by one of Ireland’s legendary Olympic champions, Ronnie Delaney, who who gold in Melbourne in 1956.

“From the age of 15, I would attend different sports awards in Dublin and Ronnie Delaney, who won an Olympic gold medal in the 1500-meters in 1956, was always one of the first people announced.

“I would sit there, look at him and think this is unbelievable.”

As for the controversy surrounding golf, he played down the withdrawals of the younger golfers and predicted a bright future for the game in the Olympics beyond Tokyo 2020.

“You have to understand that I’m older, at a different stage of my career, so it’s a great opportunity for me,” Harrington said.

“It’s going to be great for golf. We’ll keep improving and just like tennis we’re going to get there – teething problems.”