Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods set for the Olympics in Tokyo

Paola Ditto
Mag 15, 2019

There's players that play for Ulster but they want to play for Ireland. I've never played in the Olympics and I'm sure I won't have many more opportunities going forward at 43.

'I said to Justin, if I had been on that podium listening to the Irish flag or the British flag, I would have felt uncomfortable either way, ' said McIlroy at the time.

"More likely than not I will play", said the Northern Irishman.

The men's Olympic golf will be held at the Kasumigaseki course in suburban Tokyo from July 30-Aug. 2.

I think as a young boy it was always my dream to play for Ireland.

"I wanted to play for Ireland, I was very proud to put on that shirt or that blazer".

"Golf is seen as a whole island sport, just like hockey is and most other sports are".

"So why would it be any different just because it's a different golf tournament or because it's a different arena or a different environment?" he added.

'So, when you put the Olympics into the equation and there's a choice to be made, you really have to start thinking about your values and your beliefs.

"It's not just a superficial decision". I've thought about that for a long time, and in the end it came down to when I was a little boy and I got that first call up to the Ireland national squad. McIlroy had been scheduled to play for Ireland in 2016 until announcing that June he would not be going.

"I don't know who might be going on that team, as well, whether it's Shane or Seamus or whoever, but yeah, I'm excited for it". It's going to be a great experience, and probably a little bit nostalgic because it'll bring me back to 15 years ago, whenever I was doing that with the same people, with Neil, with Shane. It's going to be cool'.

The Holywood native represented Ireland as an amateur but admitted that he resented having to choose between Ireland or Britain in the run-up to Rio.

"Whether that's right or wrong, it's how I feel".

McIlroy, who has a win and eight top-10 finishes in 10 events this year, said he is not totally committed to playing in the Tokyo Olympics.

To be fair to McIlroy, the turmoil is indicative of a high-profile sportsman from Northern Ireland placed in an impossible position, knowing full well he will stir up deep feelings no matter what he decides.

McIlroy, who represented Ireland throughout his amateur career, said his decision to pencil Tokyo 2020 into his schedule was helped by the as yet "unofficial" appointment of the Golfing Union of Ireland's national coach Neil Manchip as Olympic team leader and the chance to rekindle the good memories of his amateur career.

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