Sport Golf

Tuesday 23 January 2018

'I don’t want to let my country down' - Rory McIlroy on his decision to represent Ireland at Rio Olympics

Rory McIlroy (PA)
Rory McIlroy (PA)

Phil Casey

Rory McIlroy believes he may only have two chances to win an Olympic medal unless there is a change in attitude to the sport's return to the Games.

Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Vijay Singh have all made themselves unavailable for selection for this summer's Games in Rio, when golf is included in the programme for the first time since 1904.

Scott had previously said winning an Olympic medal was nothing he had ''ever aspired to do'' and questioned the 72-hole strokeplay format for what he called ''an exhibition event,'' while Oosthuizen cited "family and schedule issues" and Singh also expressed concern about the Zika virus.

McIlroy said in January that major championships would always be more important to him than an Olympic medal, but asked on Wednesday why he would be playing in Rio, the 27-year-old said:

"Two reasons - Because of how it's being approached in golf circles, it's being played in Rio this year and Tokyo in 2020, I'm not sure if we're going to have another opportunity to win a gold medal after that, depending on what happens.

"The second thing - Paul McGinley is the Irish team captain and he is so into it. He's more into it than I am quite honestly, but because he is, I would feel like I am not only letting him down, I'd let the country down as well. Paul is a very close friend of mine and if I didn't play I'd let him down big time.

"That's why I want to go and give it my best shot. I'm going to get all my shots next week from the doctor on site at the Players (Championship), get my shots for Zika and everything else I need and go play four rounds really competitively and try to win a gold medal."

Speaking in a press conference ahead of his defence of the Wells Fargo Championship, McIlroy added: "I don't know how that will stack up against the other things I've done in my career now, but maybe I might look back in 20 years' time and a gold medal might be one of my crowning achievements in the game. You never know.

"It's an opportunity to do something you've never done before. I get that a lot of players aren't playing because of family matters and other things, but while I don't have those issues of a family it's a good opportunity. If nothing else it will be a great experience."

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