Rory McIlroy to play for Ireland at 2016 Olympics
RORY McIlroy has confirmed he will represent Ireland in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
The golfer insisted it was a decision he had to take time to make but was proud to choose Ireland having been repeatedly linked with representing Great Britain in the next Olympics.
"I see this as a continuation of what I have always done," the Northern Ireland-born star said.
The Major winner said that the issue of who to represent in the Olympic Games had dominated his thoughts over recent weeks given the build-up to the Brazil 2014 World Cup.
"I have been thinking about it a lot. I don't know if it is because the World Cup is in Brazil and I was thinking a couple of years down the line."
"I was thinking about all the times I have played for Ireland as a boy and everything."
"For me it is the right decision to play for Ireland."
The golfer received a round of applause from the assembled Irish media when he made his announcement at the Irish Open press conference in Fota Resort in Cork.
He is playing in the Pro-Am today.
Mr McIlroy said that while the decision was important to him, winning a Major still remains his primary goal ahead of an Olympic medal.
But he said that while golfers are professional athletes in a sport where money and funding is important, national representation is also something taken very seriously.
"People think that now you are playing golf for money, I am a professional. But you have this choice or this decision to make."
Mr McIlroy pointed out that golf, like major sports such as hockey and rugby, treat Ireland as one when it comes to sport.
"Their sports are huge...they view Ireland as one the same as we do in golf. I don't think there is any point to change that."
"I will be very proud to do it again."
The golfer said it was not a decision he took lightly.
"(I was) more worried about what other people would think rather than, you know, me. But you have got to do what is right for yourself and what you feel comfortable with."
"Ultimately, that was the decision I made."
He said he felt the time was right to publicly confirm the decision.
"There is no point in delaying it. I was watching some of the World Cup and thinking about Brazil in a couple of years time."
"It really got me thinking that maybe I should just go ahead and get it out of the way. I am really looking forward now to the Olympics in a couple of years time."
The star insisted it was a decision he had to make for himself.
"It was something I had to do...I have had a lot of time on my own, by myself, for the past couple of weeks. I was really thinking about it a lot."
"I knew I had to make some sort of decision - some kind of stand on it. I weighed up everything...but I kept thinking about all the times I played for Ireland."
"I won great amateur titles representing Ireland. I kept thinking, why change that? It is what I have always done. I see this as a continuation of what I have been doing."