Rory McIlroy might skip 2016 Olympics

Rory McIlroy
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Rory McIlroy knows that hard feelings are likely to result no matter which flag he chose to play under in the Olympics.

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Thursday, January 03, 2013 | 11:34 a.m.

It's still several years before golf makes its return to the Olympic Games in 2016, but already world No. 1 Rory McIlroy is giving serious thought to staying home.

Why? McIlroy might skip the Olympics to avoid the controversy already being generated by the decision over which country he would play for. As a native of Northern Ireland, he – and compatriot Graeme McDowell – are eligible to play for either Ireland or Great Britain, and hard feelings are likely to result no matter what.

"I just think being from where we're from, we're placed in a very difficult position. I feel Northern Irish and obviously being from Northern Ireland you have a connection to Ireland and a connection to the UK," McIlroy told the BBC for an upcoming documentary about his 2012 season.

"If I could and there was a Northern Irish team, I'd play for Northern Ireland," he said. "Play for one side or the other, or not play at all because I may upset too many people… Those are my three options I'm considering very carefully."

Back in 2009, McIlroy said he would "probably play for Great Britain," but he and McDowell both have been treading carefully around the issue since the day golf was voted back into the Olympics.

"People tune in to watch me play on TV and feel like they are connected to me in some way," McIlroy told the BBC. "I don't want to repay them for their support with something they don't want me to do."

Also in the documentary, he discusses what happened on the Sunday morning of the Ryder Cup, when he almost missed his tee time and had to hitch a ride with a police officer to make it on time.

"I have never been as worried, as nervous or as panicked going to the golf course," he said.