Professional / Euro Tour

Danny Willett questions participation in Olympics due to Zika virus concerns

Danny Willett during the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
Danny Willett during the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. (Getty Images)

VIRGINIA WATER, England – Danny Willett is prepared to follow Rory McIlroy’s lead and pull out of the Olympic Games if he feels the Zika virus could threaten future family plans, the Englishman revealed on the eve of the $5.5 million BMW PGA Championship.

McIlroy announced yesterday that he would pull out of the games if he thought the virus posed a serious threat to future family life. McIlroy is engaged to Erica Stoll.

Willett and wife Nicole recently celebrated the birth of their first child, Zachariah.

“If it turns out that it would be a massive threat to myself or to Nick (wife Nicole) or to Little Man (son Zachariah), then I probably wouldn’t go,” Willett said. “Family comes first. But as it stands at the minute, I think everything should be okay.”

The new Masters champion says he will use this week to find out as much information on the virus as possible.

“It’s not great, is it? There’s going to be 500,000 people watching the Olympics, and you have 11,000 athletes right in the heart of where it’s at. I’m not a doctor. I don’t know the ins and outs of it, but I’m going to have a sit down with the guys this week and just double-check everything.

“We’re down to go. Hopefully, they can give us some proper guidelines as to how to keep it at bay, and keep it under control so that it doesn’t ruin what could be potentially a fantastic Olympics.”

Willett is hoping for a fantastic week to make up for his collapse in last week’s Irish Open. The Englishman took the first round lead but couldn’t build on it over the next three days. Instead, he went backwards.

He finished bogey, bogey, double bogey, bogey after 26 straight pars to go from contending for the title to finishing 23rd.

“Sunday I was a little bit tired,” he said. “It had been a long week, a long Saturday, obviously, with the delays.

“Just a long two days, really, nothing else that you can put it down to. I didn’t play good golf. It happens. I could never really get anything going. I think we made something stupid like 26 straight pars. Just really couldn’t get the ball in.

“When I made that first bogey on the Sunday afternoon after missing a short one for birdie on 12 or 13, I was just a bit deflated, wind got knocked out of the sails.

“It’s golf. You feel like everything’s going well and, flipside, you can play pretty poorly quite quickly. It just happens. I’m not really going to try to take too much from it.”

Willett is the highest ranked player in this week’s field as World No. 9. In fact, he’s the only world top 20 in the field.

His best finish around Wentworth is fifth place in 2010. There will be pressure on him to finish much higher this year.

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