Tuesday 21 May 2019

'It's a boost to the entire team' - Confederation of Golf in Ireland welcomes Rory McIlroy's Olympics announcement

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland speaks to the media during a press conference prior to the 2019 PGA Championship at the Bethpage Black course. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland speaks to the media during a press conference prior to the 2019 PGA Championship at the Bethpage Black course. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The Confederation of Golf in Ireland have confirmed that Rory McIlroy has been in talks with Neil Manchip over representing Team Ireland at next year's Tokyo Olympics.

Yesterday, the 30-year-old confirmed his intention to represent Ireland in 2020, as he did as an amateur.

Neil Manchip, the CGI nominee for men’s golf Team Leader at the Tokyo Olympics said: “We are delighted that Rory has signalled his intention to compete  for Ireland at the Olympics in Tokyo next year.

"We've had several conversations over the last couple of months and I know he’s excited about playing. Having a multiple major winner as part of Team Ireland will undoubtedly be a boost to the entire team making the trip next year.”

Manchip used to coach McIlroy during his amateur days.

McIlroy had been scheduled to go to the 2016 Games in Rio but pulled out because of concerns over the Zika virus.

In the build-up to the last Olympics, McIlroy, who was born in Holywood, County Down, admitted having to make a choice over which nation to play for had left him somewhat resentful over the whole saga.

On his decision to play for Ireland, McIlroy told a press conference at the PGA Championship:  "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.

"It's the same as like the rugby players, right? There's players that play for Ulster, but they want to play for Ireland. It's seen as a whole-island sport, just like hockey is, just like most of the sports are.

"So then obviously when you put the Olympics into the equation and then there's a choice to be made, you really have to start thinking: 'okay, well, what are your beliefs and your values?'

"It makes you sort of have to delve a little bit deeper. It's not just a superficial decision. It's something that you have to really believe in."

"I've thought about that for a long time, and in the end, it was the fact that when I was a little boy and I got that first call up to the national squad to go on to Citywest and be a part of the youth system and making that team and playing in home internationals, I was so proud to do that.

"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? That was basically what it came down to.

"I had an unbelievable amateur career, and I don't mean that in terms of results, but I mean that in the experiences I had and the trips that I had and the friendships that I made and the friendships that I still have to this day.

"That was all because of playing for Ireland and getting close to some of those guys.

"I'm excited to be going to the Olympics. I'm excited to play for Ireland."

The current standings in the qualification process for Team Ireland men’s team:

4th – Rory McIlroy

21st - Shane Lowry

120th - Graeme McDowell

154th - Paul Dunne

240th – Padraig Harrington

268th - Seamus Power

The current standings in the qualification process for Team Ireland women’s team:

41st – Leona Maguire

51st – Stephanie Meadow

The Olympic field is restricted to 60 players for each of the men’s and women’s competitions. The IGF will utilise the official world golf rankings to create the Olympic Golf Rankings as a method of determining eligibility. The top-15 world-ranked players will be eligible for the Olympics, with a limit of four players from a given country. Beyond the top-15, players will be eligible based on the world rankings, with a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top-15.

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