Lowry joins growing list of Olympic no-shows due to Zika virus


Ireland's Shane Lowry has joined a fast-growing list of the world's top golfers to have withdrawn from the Olympic golf competition due to concerns about the Zika virus.

Lowry, who stole the headlines earlier this month at the U.S. Open by taking a four-shot lead into the final round, has ruled himself out of the chance to compete in Rio.

The return of golf to the Olympics after a century away from the Games is in danger of being rendered a non-event after five of the world's top 14 golfers confirmed they would not travel to Brazil, where the mosquito-borne Zika virus has created widespread health concerns.

Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace have already confirmed they will not risk contracting the virus, which is known to cause severe birth defects, and Lowry wrote on Twitter: "It is with a very heavy heart that I have had to make the decision over the past couple of days to withdraw from the upcoming Olympic Games this August.

"Myself and my management team have been closely monitoring the Zika virus situation in South America for the past number of months, but based on a number of consultations with leading medical experts in recent days, I feel that I would be putting my family's health at risk by being in Brazil at the current time.

"Wendy [Lowry's wife] and I have just recently been married and we hope to be lucky enough to have a family in the near future."