Golf

Rory McIlroy 'somewhat proven wrong' by golf's success at Rio Olympics

Rory McIlroy admitted he was surprised by the crowds watching the golf in Rio
Phil Casey

RORY McIlroy was glad to be "somewhat proven wrong" by the success of golf at the Olympics following its controversial return to the Games.

McIlroy was one of more than 20 top players to withdraw from Rio, the 27-year-old initially citing concerns over the Zika virus but later admitting that major championships remained the ''pinnacle'' of the sport and he would only watch ''the stuff that matters'' in the Olympics.

Gold medal winner Justin Rose revealed he had received a message of congratulations from McIlroy which implied that the four-time major winner had changed his mind and watched the thrilling climax.

Justin Rose embraced the return of golf at the Olympics 

And speaking at a press conference ahead of the first FedEx Cup play-off event at Bethpage Black, McIlroy confirmed he had caught the decisive final hole and first medal ceremony since 1904.

"I saw Henrik and Justin's fairway woods at the last and I saw the chip shots and I saw the putts and I saw the medal ceremony," McIlroy said at The Barclays.

"Actually I spent the weekend in my in-laws cabin in upstate New York where there was no TV, no electricity. But we got back Sunday afternoon, so caught up with it.

"Obviously it pleasantly surprised me. There was more people at the golf events than there was at the athletics. It was good to see, it really was. It seems like it was a great atmosphere down there. I think it was one of the cheaper tickets as well, and I think that encouraged a lot of people to go.

"It was well supported down there and I think Justin was a great winner. He was on board from the start. You go back years and see his quotes about it, and he was really excited to play and looking forward to play. So I think it was the right winner in the end, as well.

"It was nice to be proven wrong somewhat in terms of... like I thought golf was sort of going to get lost a little bit. It was away from the village; I thought it was going to just sort of blend in with everything else and be, not forgotten about, but just one of a lot of sports that are there obviously. But to see the crowds and see the turnout, I was glad to be somewhat proven wrong."

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