Unwrap the green flag round our Rory
PHILIP REIDreckons the world’s number one should fly the flag for himself and no one else – and skip the Olympics
AS OSCAR Wilde himself once put it, “the only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.”
So, here goes. Here’s my advice to Rory McIlroy, the greatest golfer on the planet: Don’t bother playing in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro!
Give it a miss! Save yourself the trouble and strife of having to declare allegiance one way or another! Focus on the Majors; for, truly, they are the defining moments in any player’s career! Be yourself!
There. I’ve said it.
The pulling and dragging over McIlroy’s nationality or otherwise is most unseemly and something of an irrelevance given that virtually week-in and week-out he is playing very much as an individual.
If he were to bypass the Olympics, the kernel of this issue, it would certainly present an easier way out – and avoid the hassle – for the player, especially given the over-the-top response to the comment that he felt “more British than Irish”.
Was I hearing things or did Pat Kenny really call him “stupid”? Steady on.
McIlroy is a Northern Irish golfer who – at just 23 years of age – has become a double-Major champion and is currently the world’s number one ranked player and likely to occupy such a position for the foreseeable future.
He is an iconic figure, a role model now and will continue to be into the future. He is well-mannered, gives respect and exudes charisma. What’s not to like?
He has served Irish golf tremendously well, both as an amateur and as a professional. He owes us nothing, but has – in a relatively short time – given us so much.
He is no different to a lot of other 22- or 23- or 24-year-olds in Northern Ireland who have grown up with the largely peaceful benefits which the Belfast Agreement of 1998 brought with it and he is no different to many other sportsmen of his generation – such as rugby players, another all-island governed sport – from that neck of the woods who have benefited from funding and grant- aided assistance in their sporting development and who have similar questions of identity.
McIlroy – like any other person – should be given the time and opportunity to explore and articulate that identity. That articulation should be seen as an opportunity to reflect on who we are and what we are, and we should be mature enough to accept whatever decision is eventually taken when that beast that is the Olympics devours the pampered professional golfers.
In recent years, McIlroy became quite an expert at sitting on the fence when it came to questions of national identity. When he won a first event on the PGA Tour at Quail Hollow in 2010, he was asked if he considered himself Irish or British.
“Pass,” he replied before, after a moment’s reflection, adding: “I’m Northern Irish . . . I hold a British passport.” So do a significant number of Northern Irish men and women. He is not unique on that score.