McIlroy makes it a perfect Fota opportunity by declaring for Boys in Green
Sunshine and blue skies ensure huge crowds for Irish Open pro-am at Cork venue
Rory McIlroy at the press conference on Fota Island, Co Cork. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Sun shining, temperatures hitting 25 degrees, Fota Island looking as manicured and magnificent as Augusta and just when you think it couldn’t possibly get any better, Rory McIlroy just made every Irish golf fan’s day by declaring for Ireland for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
McIlroy’s press conference was trundling merrily along in the thankfully air-conditioned media centre when, in response to a question from a member of the press pack, he caught everyone unawares with his declaration that he would be playing for the Boys in Green in Rio De Janeiro.
“There is no point in delaying it, letting it linger any longer. I was watching the World Cup in Brazil thinking about Brazil in a couple of years time and it got me thinking that I should go ahead and get it out of the way - I really look forward to the Olympics in a couple of years time.”
“I had a lot of time on my own over the last few weeks and I have been thinking about it a lot. It’s something that would be quite important to me. I needed to make some sort of decision, some sort of stand. I weighed up everything.
“I was thinking back about the times I was playing for Ireland, won a European Team Championship. I won a lot of great amateur titles representing Ireland so I thought why change that? To me it is just a continuation of what I have always done.”
The announcement, greeted by a spontaneous round of applause from the press, not surprisingly led to a swelling of the public gallery at 2pm as McIlroy teed off in the pro-am with his father, Gerry, businessman and Glasgow Celtic owner, Dermot Desmond and Mr Desmond’s friend Albert Sharpe.
Irish American super hoofer and multi-millionaire, Michael Flatley had been due to participate in the pro-am but was forced to pull out at the last moment but in truth there were plenty of names among the amateurs as well as the many pros to keep the autograph hunters happy.
Among the amateurs, sports men from other codes were among the most besieged for autographs with Cork hurling goalkeeper, Anthony Nash putting all the controversy about his ability to launch his trademark raspers penalties and frees behind him to enjoy a relaxing game of golf.
“I was playing with Marc Warren - he was an absolute gentleman - I drive the ball a bit but my driving wasn’t going too well today so he gave me a few tips - it’s great being able to see the professionals up close and Fota is just phenomenal , the greens and fairways are just pristine.”