Dublin - Graeme
McDowell has turned down the chance to take fellow Northern Irishman
Rory McIlroy's place in the 2016 Rio Olympics, he announced on Thursday.
The 2010 US Open champion becomes the latest in a long list of
high-profile golfers to pull out of the Games, as he was next in line to
compete for the Irish team after McIlroy's withdrawal over concerns
about the Zika virus.
McDowell, 36, insisted that he had already decided against competing
in Brazil as his wife is pregnant and due to give birth around the same
time as the Games.
"I woke yesterday morning to the news that Rory McIlory had withdrawn
from the Irish Olympic Golf team, putting me in line for an automatic
spot on the team," said McDowell in a statement on Twitter.
"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
"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."
The Olympic golf competition has already been hit by a series of
withdrawals, with 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia and
South Africa's 2010 British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen pulling out
over scheduling concerns.
Other major champions skipping the Olympics include former world
number one Vijay Singh of Fiji and Oosthuizen's compatriot Charl