McDowell seeks help to decide which nation to represent in 2016 Olympics

Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy
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Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy thrive when playing for Europe in the Ryder Cup, but want some guidance on which flag to play under in the Olympics.
By
Bernie McGuire
Associated Press

Series: European Tour

SHANGHAI -- Graeme McDowell wants some help in deciding which country he should represent at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The golfer from Northern Ireland said Thursday he would like some guidance on whether he and top-ranked Rory McIlroy should play for Britain or Ireland when golf returns to the Olympics for the first time since 1924.

"Obviously, Rory's come under a lot of scrutiny in the last couple of months for kind of saying he might play for Great Britain," McDowell said. "We're kind of in a unique scenario in Northern Ireland in that we have one foot on each team. I think it's going to be a lot easier if someone makes the decision for us.

"The Olympic committee should step in and say that `You guys are either playing for Ireland or you're playing for Great Britain.'"

Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, putting the pair in position to either play for Britain or Ireland. On the regular golf tours, Northern Ireland stands on its own alongside Ireland and the other three British nations -- England, Scotland and Wales.

Last month, McIlroy said he had not made a decision on which country to represent.

And the president of the Irish Olympic Committee, Pat Hickey, has denied reports that he said McIlroy could carry the Irish flag in the opening ceremony in Rio if he competed for that country.

At the BMW Masters, McDowell said he would be prepared to represent either Britain or Ireland.

"I always say that I come from a mixed-religion family," McDowell said. "My mum's Catholic and my dad is Protestant. And my mum would probably like me to play for Ireland, and my dad might like me to play for Britain.

"But then I always kind of sit on the fence because that's exactly the only place I can sit. Let's say that I'd play for whatever team we have come 2016."