Skip to main content

World Cup prompts Rory McIlroy to commit to Ireland at the Olympics

June 18, 2014 -- Updated 1536 GMT (2336 HKT)
Rory McIlroy has announced he wants to represent Ireland at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Rory McIlroy has announced he wants to represent Ireland at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rory McIlroy announces intention to compete for Ireland at Rio Olympics of 2016
  • The Northern Irishman had previously said he would represent Team GB in Brazil
  • McIlroy: "I was thinking about all the times I have played for Ireland as a boy"
  • Golf star's clubs returned to him after they went missing in transit

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- The World Cup has provided a festival of football and color in Brazil, and its intoxicating nature has had an effect far away from the shores of the Copacabana.

The action and fervor sparked by one of the biggest sporting events in the world has prompted Northern Ireland's two-time major champion Rory McIlroy to turn his mind to another -- the Olympics.

And as he stepped up his preparations ahead of the Irish Open in Cork, he decided to announce he'll be representing Ireland at the Rio Olympics of 2016.

McIlroy had previously stated his intention to compete under the Great Britain and Northern Ireland banner when golf returns to the Games after 112 years.

Read: McIlroy splits with Wozniacki

Rory McIlroy & Caroline Wozniacki split

But confirming his change of heart at a press conference ahead of the Irish Open this week, he said Brazil's hosting of the World Cup had provoked his declaration.

Jordan Spieth's life changing shot
The rise of golf's child stars

"I've been thinking about it a lot," he told reporters at the Fota Island Resort. "I feel like it's the right decision for me. There's no point in delaying it and letting it linger any longer.

"I don't know whether it's been because the World Cup has been in Brazil and I've been thinking a couple of years down the line.

"I have also thought about all the times that I played as an amateur for Ireland and as a boy and everything so for me it's the right decision to play for Ireland, so I'm going to play for Ireland in 2016.

"If you look at the (Irish) rugby players, you look at cricketers or hockey players ... they view Ireland as one, the same as we do in golf.

"So I don't think there's any point to change that or any point to go against that just because it's a different event or it's the Olympics.

"I was always very proud to put on the Irish uniform and play as an amateur and as a boy, and I would be very proud to do it again."

McIlroy, from Holywood in County Down, played amateur golf on an all-island basis before he turned professional and is eligible to represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland as well as the Republic of Ireland.

The U.S. Open and U.S. PGA Championship winner received funding from the Golfing Union of Ireland before turning professional in 2007.

And he has represented Ireland twice in golf's World Cup event, both times playing alongside compatriot Graeme McDowell -- the 2010 U.S. Open champion.

When asked if an Olympic gold medal would rank as highly as a major championship he replied: "Winning an Olympic medal is still is not as big as a major championship but it's up there.

"The majors in our sport are the biggest and best prizes in the game. But as hopefully golf grows in the Olympics and becomes say bigger in four or five Games down the line then it might become bigger."

Aside from the 2016 Olympics, McIlroy's more immediate concern was getting his clubs back after they were lost in transit by United during his flight to Ireland.

The world No. 6 tweeted on Tuesday: "Hey @united landed in Dublin yesterday morning from Newark and still no golf clubs... Sort of need them this week... Can someone help!?"

His plea sparked the airline into action and it promised McIlroy's clubs would be delivered to the tournament venue on Wednesday.

They were as good as their word and McIlroy posted a photo on Twitter saying: "Re-@united with my clubs!"

McIlroy is in good form after his recent victory at the European Tour's flagship event -- the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth -- and a top 25 finish at the U.S. Open last weekend.

He has been paired with three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, from Ireland, for his first two rounds in Cork.

Read: McIlroy wins PGA Championship

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 1251 GMT (2051 HKT)
It's a big dilemma: Be with your wife for the birth of your first child, or stay at work and try to earn $11 million. For Billy Horschel, it's a no-brainer.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 1140 GMT (1940 HKT)
She's just 19 but Hyo Joo Kim is already showing she's ready for the big time after recording the lowest ever round at a major championship.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1706 GMT (0106 HKT)
Masters champion Bubba Watson says winning the $10 million FedEx Cup jackpot would bring forward his retirement from the game.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 1131 GMT (1931 HKT)
EVIAN-LES-BAINS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 15: A view of the 14th green during the third round of The Evian Championship at the Evian Resort Golf Club on September 15, 2013 in Evian-les-Bains, France. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
The world's top women golfers will be chasing a $3.25 million prize purse at one of the most stunning courses on the LPGA Tour.
September 3, 2014 -- Updated 1219 GMT (2019 HKT)
Tom Watson selects Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson as his wildcard picks for the Ryder Cup contest with Europe.
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 1352 GMT (2152 HKT)
Ian Poulter kept Europe clinging on in their Ryder Cup battle with the United States in Chicago.
Ian Poulter, who has constantly haunted the U.S. in Ryder Cup golf, is back after being chosen as a wildcard by European captain Paul McGinley.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1540 GMT (2340 HKT)
Tiger Woods has split with his longtime coach Sean Foley after not winning a major during their four-year tenure.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 1105 GMT (1905 HKT)
Success just keeps on coming for Rory McIlroy, but the world No. 1 is already targeting more titles following his second PGA Championship win.
August 8, 2014 -- Updated 1424 GMT (2224 HKT)
From Seve's "spine-shivering" moment to Jack Nicklaus' "perfect explosion," David Cannon has captured many of golf's defining images.
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1320 GMT (2120 HKT)
They came home as casualties of war -- physically shattered and mentally broken. But golf is proving to be an unlikely salvation for U.S. veterans.
August 5, 2014 -- Updated 1231 GMT (2031 HKT)
You are the one hitting the shots, but the man standing over your shoulder could hold the key to your golfing destiny.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1227 GMT (2027 HKT)
PINEHURST, NC - JUNE 10: Rory McIlroy (R) of Northern Ireland talks with his dad Gerry McIlroy (L) during a practice round prior to the start of the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, Course No. 2 on June 10, 2014 in Pinehurst, North Carolina. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
He has been there for all three of his son's major wins, but the latest triumph may well have been the sweetest yet for Rory McIlroy's father.
ADVERTISEMENT