Rory McIlroy has always answered questions to the press as honestly as possible — one of his most endearing qualities. However, there is one sensitive issue that the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland has avoided giving a straight answer: With golf’s re-entrance to the Olympics in 2016, will he represent Ireland or Great Britain?
The answer: Still TBD.
Just a day after his second back-to-back win and third win in his last four starts, McIlroy’s response in a UK magazine has stirred some controversy. In an interview with Sportsmail, Rory, a Northern Irishman, talks about the rather difficult task of “choosing” which flag will fly by his name when the time comes. He’s openly spoken about his predicament, but a comment he made implied that he will play for Great Britain, according to The Daily Mail’s Derek Lawrenson:
“What makes it such an awful position to be in is I have grown up my whole life playing for Ireland under the Golfing Union of Ireland umbrella,’ he said. ‘But the fact is, I’ve always felt more British than Irish.
“Maybe it was the way I was brought up, I don’t know, but I have always felt more of a connection with the UK than with Ireland. And so I have to weigh that up against the fact that I’ve always played for Ireland and so it is tough. Whatever I do, I know my decision is going to upset some people but I just hope the vast majority will understand.”
This was the first time McIlroy publicly stated his affinity for Great Britain over Ireland — which, of course, has caused quite the hoopla over in the UK on Monday. In response to the controversy, McIlroy wrote an open letter, which he posted on his Twitter account:
I’d been planning to hold off on posting on Rory’s statements because I believe WUP contributor Conor, who happens to be born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, would be better equipped to tackle the topic and share some more insights — which he will in the morning. But from the brief conversation I had with Conor, he thinks Rory’s “decision” to wear Great Britain’s colors at the Olympics is the right one because playing for Ireland would send a regressive message and “leave him open to political reprisals, perhaps.”
Well, the whole thing is rather political, isn’t it?
I’ll let Conor explain in more detail, but for now, Rory has handled this quandary with class. As Golf Channel’s Gary Williams always says, “Great golfer, better kid.”
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)