World number 2 Rory Mcllroy may have the decision over which Country he represents at the
2016 Olympic Games taken out of his own hands after one of golf’s top executives indicated that
legislation means he will have to play for Ireland.
McIlroy, who represented Ireland at amateur level, yet carries British identity, has previously said
that the dilemma of choosing between the two nations when golf returns to the Olympic setup in
2016 may lead to his withdrawal.
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club (R&A) chief executive, Peter Dawson, said: “I think, because Rory’s
history is playing for Ireland at amateur level and, I think at World Cup level, that there may be a
regulation within the Olympic rules that would require him to stay with that. It’s quite ambiguous
really, but there is a rule that a player who has represented one nation at a previous world
championships from certain countries, that carries with you.”
“I would very much like to take this burden of choice away from the player if we can possibly do it
because it’s not fair to him. I think he’s made it pretty clear in one or two pronouncements that he’s
worried about it and the last thing we want is players worrying about this.” He added.
McIlroy’s absence would have been a huge knockback for a sport keen to utilize the Olympics as a
platform to grow the game in a part of the world where participation and spectator numbers are
low. The Olympic tournament will be a conventional 72-hole event; however, the format will be
eligible for review if it proves unsuitable by Olympic bosses.
British Olympic Association (BOA) chariman, Lord Coe, has discussed that the worst thing possible
would be for McIlroy to opt out of the Olympics all together, because of media pressure. Mark
England, the BOA games services director is leading the way to find a solution.
“We are fact finding at the moment and waiting to hear back about those facts”, he said.
Whether anchored putters will be available to players in Brazil is still to be decided. Dawson earlier
admitted that the arguments over the use of long-handled devices had hurt relations between
governing bodies and the professional game.
Rory McIlroy has again been assigned as the favourite in the eyes of the odds makers for this week’s Wells
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Written by James Hazlett