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Home : Golf NewsBack to News

Here's why Rory "resents" the Olympics

It forces him to choose his country

Rory McIlroy has told an Irish newspaper that if he had played in the Summer Olympic Games in Rio last year, it would have forced him to decide whether he should represent Ireland or Great Britain - and he resented that.

So much so, in fact, he eventually reached a point when it "wasn't worth the hassle".

In an interview with the Sunday Independent of Ireland, McIlroy took pains to explained why he had been so critical of golf's return to the Olympics during a press conference at last years Open Champion shortly before the Olympics.

McIlroy, a four-time major winner and current FedEx Cup Champion from Great Britain's Northern Ireland, told the newspaper that when the International Olympic Committee announced in 2009 that golf would be part of the program for the first time since 1904, that, "All of a sudden it put me in a position where I had to question who I am."

"Who am I? Where am I from? Where do my loyalties lie? Who am I going to play for? Who do I not want to (upset) the most?" McIlroy said.

"I started to resent it. And I do. I resent the Olympic Games because of the position it puts me in. That's my feelings toward it. And whether that's right or wrong, that's how I feel."

McIlroy said he sent a text message to Justin Rose to congratulate him on winning the Gold medal in Rio for Britain. He said Rose thanked him and asked if he felt as though he had missed out on something.

He told the newspaper: "I said, 'Justin, if I had been on the podium (listening) to the Irish national anthem as that flag went up, or the British national anthem as that flag went up, I would have felt uncomfortable either way.

"I don't know the words to either anthem. I don't feel a connection to either flag. I don't want it to be about flags. I've tried to stay away from that."

McIlroy was among several of the world's top stars who opted to skip the Olympics, most of them, like World No 1 Jason Day, citing the dangers to their wives and families posed by the Zika virus.

McIlroy, who played for Ireland as an amateur, had been scheduled to play for Ireland in Rio until announcing in June he was opting out of the Olympics.

The golf championship at Rio was the first Olympic contest in more than 100 years and McIlroy was widely criticized McIlroy for skipping them, but he dismissed this in his latest interview, saying, "I didn't get into golf to try and grow the game."

"I'd had nothing but questions about the Olympics - 'the Olympics, the Olympics, the Olympics' - and it was just one question too far," McIlroy said. "I'd said what I needed to say. I'd got myself out of it, and it comes up again. And I could feel it. I could just feel myself go, 'Poom!' And I thought, 'I'm going to let them have it.'

"OK, I went a bit far," he added. "But I hate that term, 'growing the game.' Do you ever hear that in other sports? In tennis? Football? 'Let's grow the game.' I mean, golf was here long before we were, and it's going to be here long after we're gone. So I don't get that, but I probably went a bit overboard."

McIlroy, set to play in the South African Open this week, said he had never been driven by nationalism or patriotism because of the way he was raised, repeated that an Olympic Gold medal does not mean much to him.

"It really doesn't. I don't get excited about it. And people can disagree, and have a different opinion, and that's totally fine," he said. "Each to their own.

"I never wanted it to get political or about where I'm from, but that's what it turned into," he said. "And it just got to the point where it wasn't worth the hassle."

Neville Leck

Send your comments to neville@golfweather.com.

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