On the eve of the Irish Open, here’s a Rory McIlroy story not related to the golfer’s clubs getting lost by an airline: Clad appropriately in a green shirt a pre-tournament press conference, the Ulsterman stated he’ll play for Ireland at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The announcement ends more than a year of speculation as to whether the 25-year-old will play for Great Britain, Ireland, or no one (choosing to opt out of the politicized situation and not pick a side). Northern Ireland, of course, is part of Great Britain in Olympic competitions.

Even a casual observer of world news is a aware of the history of conflict and geopolitical tensions between Northern Ireland and Ireland. So the difficulty of McIlroy’s decision, and the reality that he’d upset a percentage of the population in at least one country, caused him to proceed with caution.

A determining factor in McIlroy’s choice: the fact that he played amateur golf for Ireland.

“I have been thinking about the decision a lot and remembered all the times I represented Ireland as an amateur,” McIlroy said.

If the fact that soccer fan McIlroy’s announcement is coming during the World Cup (also in Brazil) seems coincidental, here’s why:

“There is no point in delaying it,” he said. “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.”

Golf returns to the Olympics in 2016 for the first time since 1904.

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  1. AJ: To say “he’s not Irish” is a sweeping generalization–tell Darren Clarke or GMac that he’s not at all Irish and see the reaction you’ll get. Nobody disputes your factual description of the Troubles, but your tone with the first blogger was a bit condescending.

    More importantly, Rory has again handled a difficult personal conundrum with class. The game is in good hands. Good for him for handling the situation early.

  2. An Irish kid playing for Ireland who would have thunk it. I am not Irish so I guess I don’t really understand the conflict entirely but for me it makes sense as he played for them as an amateur. Good luck it will be cool to see what sort of format they will play. unless this has already been explained if so please feel free to inform me.

    • TJ – the point is he’s not Irish. That’s why people are writing about it. They are two separate countries who until very recently were still killing each other with car bombs.

      Is that so hard to understand?

      • Actually he is Irish, Northern Irish. I just so happened to have played with a guy the other day from Ireland and he explained it all to me. There are six counties in Ireland that don’t really fall under English or Irish rule. On any given day the people from that area can claim to be Irish or English. Lets face it Mcilroy is clearly an Irish name and he identifies himself as Irish so that’s who he should represent. And by the way they are still killing each other with car bombs, its just our U.S. media doesn’t care anymore. Or as the way this fella I played with put it, they have a very good tourism board over there.

      • aj- obviously you don’t know what you are talking about, he is Irish. People from northern I reland still consider themselves Irish. Especially if they are Catholic, which Rory is. To me this is a no brainer for him.