Bethesda (United States): Tiger Woods predicted golf's return to the Olympics will be a hit even without Rory McIlroy and other top stars Wednesday and lamented the messy penalty issue at the US Open.

Tiger WoodsTiger Woods

Speaking on the eve of his charity foundation's US PGA event at Congressional Country Club, the 14-time major champion, whose recovery from back surgery has kept him off the tour for nearly 11 months, weighed in on the sport's latest issues.

Just hours earlier, World No 4 Rory McIlroy said he would not compete at the Rio Olympics, when golf returns after a 112-year absence, because of health concerns over the Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects and severe illness.

McIlroy joined an absentee list for Brazil that includes World No 8 Adam Scott of Australia, South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, Fiji's Vijay Singh and Aussie Marc Leishman. In addition, top-ranked Jason Day, number two Jordan Spieth and sixth-ranked Rickie Fowler have said they are still looking at what conditions will be like in Rio.

"It will be a spectacular event just because it's the Olympics. It would be better if we had a more top-heavy field. I know they have to try to have each country participate, but I just wish they would have had more quality of a field," he said.