Rose, Willett relishing Rio opportunity

Rose: It's going to be a fun occasion, and I've never been to an Olympic games in any capacity. To go, obviously, as an athlete is a huge honour. But as part of the whole experience, I want to take in the games as a whole.

JustinRose - Cropped

Justin Rose faces the media at The Open.

Justin Rose and Danny Willett cannot wait to feature at the Olympics, but say they understand why some of their fellow golfers have opted not to travel to Brazil. The top four in the world rankings have decided against going to Rio, amid fears over the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which has been linked with birth defects. At their media conferences at Royal Troon ahead of this week's Open, Rose and Willett discussed the prospect of travelling to the Olympics and why they felt it was a chance not to be missed.

"I've just been excited, I can't really explain from my point of view. I'm excited about it, treating it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said 2013 U.S. Open champion Rose. "I think that at this stage of my career it's something that comes around once every four years. "I understand that it's been tough scheduling, and I understand all of that side of things, but when it's once every four years, I think it's something you can certainly make an exception for, and that's been my attitude towards it.

"Just being a part of Team GB, in a sense you feel like you're part of something bigger than just your individual sport as well. So it's going to be a fun occasion, and I've never been to an Olympic games in any capacity. To go, obviously, as an athlete is a huge honour. But as part of the whole experience, I want to take in the games as a whole. "It's been sort of a sad sort of situation to see those sorts of guys pulling out. It's obviously weakened the field. But you've got to respect their position. You do have to put your health and family first from that point of view."

Reigning Masters champion, Willett, meanwhile, said it had been a difficult choice and one that he had taken plenty of consideration over, along with his wife Nicole. "It's been a tough decision. There's been a few discussions with me and Nic. It's a tricky one," he said. "I think the opportunity was obviously there to be an Olympian and that to me was something that I think was going to be pretty cool.

"You don't know how many times you will be in the Olympics, if it will be in the Olympics again. Obviously with how people reacted to everything, you're not quite sure. "I was pretty sure all along I wanted to go play unless the threat would have gotten worse, then it would have been a very different story. "But from what I understand in speaking to the guys, the threat is lessening every day. It's obviously winter over there, and the guys are taking precautionary measures to make sure things are as safe as possible. So I'm willing to take that little bit of risk that there is and go play."