McIlroy denies making decision on Rio Games
RORY McILROY might have expected that his on-course exploits, which have seen him pocket $2.88 million inside the past week after back-to-back wins on the US Tour, might have been the talk among sports fans at water coolers around Britain and Ireland yesterday.
Instead, a day after adding the BMW Championship to the Deutsche Bank title while closing in on a possible $10 million bonus for the US Tour’s FedEx Cup series, the world number one was left to deny that he had committed to declaring for Team GB ahead of Ireland for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, when golf is to be reintroduced.
In a statement responding to an interview he gave to a British newspaper, McIlroy – in New York where he is to undergo fitness conditioning work with the New York Knicks basketball team – said: “I wish to clarify that I have absolutely not made a decision regarding my participation in the next Olympics. On a personal level, playing in the Olympics would be a huge honour. However, the Games in Rio are still four years away and I certainly won’t be making any decisions with regards to participating any time soon.”
McIlroy – like fellow Northern Ireland Major champions Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke – has a right to declare for Ireland or Britain.
Golf Union of Ireland general secretary Pat Finn said he “wouldn’t see it as a disappointment” if McIlroy declared for Britain.
“If Rory or any other player from the North, or throughout the island of Ireland, wins an Olympic medal, it wouldn’t bother me personally which anthem was playing in the background or which flag was being raised, they’d be all [past] Irish Close champions and all part of our programmes in their years as amateur players . . . and it shouldn’t be a disappointment to anyone who is a member of a club affiliated to the GUI in that there are plenty of British people members of clubs throughout Ireland who equally fund and pay towards the work the GUI does every year,” Mr Finn said.