Rory McIlroy has said he will probably line out for Team GB, and not Ireland, at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.
Speaking in a candid interview with the Daily Mail’s Sportsmail Rory answered the question which had been burning a hole in the hearts and minds of Irish golf when the game was declared as an addition to the Olympics in 2016.
McIlroy has played golf under the Irish Golf Association since he picked up a club but in a recent admission he told the Mail that he has always felt more British than Irish.
The current USPGA Champion said: “What makes it such an awful position to be in is I have grown up my whole life playing for Ireland under the Golfing Union of Ireland umbrella,” he said. “But the fact is, I’ve always felt more British than Irish.
“Maybe it was the way I was brought up, I don’t know, but I have always felt more of a connection with the UK than with Ireland. And so I have to weigh that up against the fact that I’ve always played for Ireland and so it is tough. Whatever I do, I know my decision is going to upset some people but I just hope the vast majority will understand.”
The 23-year old’s admission will indeed anger some but there will be the few who understand his decision, especially in Northern Ireland where athletes born in Ireland such as Alan Campbell and the Chambers brothers flourished this summer competing for Team GB.
Not only has McIlroy’s admission caused a stir perhaps in the political minds of the few, even more so in the golfing world it means in 2016 Team Ireland may be competing against a player the country’s golfing association has nurtured.
As if to make things worse, Rory McIlroy is not just an average golfer. The man from Holywood is currently the best player in the world and who could argue?
The 23-year old has been in scintillating form recently winning the TPC in Boston and recently adding the BMW Championship in Indiana to his list of achievements this season.
Irish golf has taken a big hit with the news that McIlroy will prefer to play for Team GB than Ireland at the next Olympics.
If fellow countrymen Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell follow him down that path of declaration then it could become very slim pickings indeed for the Irish golf team in 2016.