The Open: ‘Honour’ for Rio-bound Danny Willett as the main action gets underway at Royal Troon

Sheffield's Danny Willett getting some last-minute practice in on Wednesday at Royal Troon ahead of today's first day at The Open. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA.
Sheffield's Danny Willett getting some last-minute practice in on Wednesday at Royal Troon ahead of today's first day at The Open. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA.
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Preparations for today’s Open Championship at Royal Troon may have been overshadowed by the debate over the sport’s place at the Olympics – but Sheffield’s Danny Willett is “honoured” to be named as part of the Great Britain team heading for Rio.

Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth have opted not to compete – partly due to concerns over the Zika virus – but Yorkshireman Willett will line up alongside Justin Rose in Brazil next month.

Sheffield's Danny Willett lines up a putt on the first tee during practice day at Royal Troon. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA.

Sheffield's Danny Willett lines up a putt on the first tee during practice day at Royal Troon. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA.

Masters champion Willett, who won at Augusta in April, is relishing the prospect of becoming an Olympian.

“It will be a huge honour to represent Team GB at the Olympics,” he said.

“It comes at a busy point in our year so I’m hoping to be playing well going into it. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Rikki Fowler is one of those who will be competing against Willett, lining up alongside Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed and Matt Kuchar for the USA. Yesterday the world No 7 said he was keen to take what could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity given that golf’s Olympic future beyond 2020 will be decided next year.

USA's Rikki Fowler during practice day at Royal Troon. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA.

USA's Rikki Fowler during practice day at Royal Troon. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA.

After McIlroy stated that he would be unlikely to even tune into the golf at the Olympics, Fowler quipped: “Maybe I’ll cause enough of a stir that Rory’ll turn it back over to golf at some point.

“I’m excited. It’ll be pretty special to be an Olympic athlete.

“I can definitely understand why players have pulled out. It wasn’t an easy decision for me. I wanted to make sure I did my homework and knew the risks.”

On his hopes for the bext four days at Troon, Fowler added: “I love playing links golf and it’s time to start to playing a little better. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could win.”

‘Simply the best’ plus selected tee-times: Page 27.

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