Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014 file photo, Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off on the fifth hole during the first round of the Honda Classic golf tournament, in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Rory McIlroy has decided to play for Ireland, not Britain, at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The 25-year-old McIlroy, who is from Northern Ireland, was eligible to play for Britain or Ireland and had been wrangling over a decision for more than a year. The two-time major winner says Wednesday, June 18, 2014 "I have been thinking about the decision a lot and remembered all the times I represented Ireland as an amateur."(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
Olympic golf: McIlroy chooses to play for Ireland in Rio Games
First Published Jun 18 2014 10:29 am • Last Updated Jun 19 2014 04:44 pm

Cork, Ireland • After months of indecision over who to represent, Rory McIlroy announced Wednesday that he will play for Ireland — not Britain — at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The 25-year-old McIlroy, who is from Northern Ireland, was eligible to play for either Ireland or Team GB when golf makes its return to the Olympics in Brazil for the first time since 1904.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Having played all of his amateur golf under the auspices of the Dublin-based Golfing Union of Ireland, the two-time major winner opted to stay with Ireland for the Olympics.

"I have been thinking about the decision a lot and remembered all the times I represented Ireland as an amateur," McIlroy said on the eve of the Irish Open in Cork. "I was always very proud to put on the Irish uniform and play as an amateur and as a boy, and I would be very proud to do it again."

Citizens of Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, can hold both British and Irish citizenship. Most of the Protestant majority is British, most of its Catholic minority Irish.

McIlroy, while raised a Catholic, grew up in the predominantly Protestant town of Holywood east of Belfast and once said he considered himself more British than Irish.

His 2012 comments — suggesting he might prefer to join the British team — provoked strong ill feelings from Irish golf fans. McIlroy initially said he might skip Rio entirely to avoid alienating fans further.

Two other top Northern Ireland golfers, Darren Clarke and McDowell, are Protestants who have identified with Ireland.

McIlroy has twice played in golf’s World Cup for Ireland, both times alongside fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell.

"Just because I’m getting paid to play this great game now doesn’t mean I should change (teams)," McIlroy said. "So I’m very happy with my decision. It means I can look forward to the Olympics in a couple of years’ time — you know, if I qualify, obviously, for the team.


story continues below
story continues below

"I just thought it was the right thing to do. It was the right time to let everyone know. Now I’m really looking forward to Rio in ‘16."

McIlroy announced his decision ahead of next month’s International Golf Federation meeting that will finalize the eligibility criteria for the 2016 and 2020 Olympics.

"There’s no point in delaying it and letting it linger any longer," he said. "Watching the World Cup in Brazil, thinking about Brazil in a couple of years’ time, it just sort of got me thinking, maybe I should just go ahead and get it out of the way."

Still, McIlroy said, winning an Olympic medal would not match winning a major championship.

"The majors in our sport are the biggest and best prizes in the game," he said. "But as hopefully golf grows in the Olympics and becomes, say, bigger in four or five games down the line, then it might become bigger."

———

Associated Press Writer Shawn Pogatchnik in Dublin contributed to this report.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.