But it turns out he did tune into some of the golf after all.
On Wednesday, ahead of the start of The Barclays
in Farmingdale, New York, McIlroy gave a chuckle during his press conference when he was asked if he watched the Olympics.
"I saw Henrik (Stenson) and Justin (Rose's) fairway woods (shots) at the last (hole)," McIlroy said.
"I saw the chip shots, I saw the putts, and I saw the medal ceremony. I spent the weekend at my in-laws' cabin in upstate New York where there was no TV, no electricity, so actually didn't get to see much of anything that weekend. We got back Sunday afternoon, so (I) caught up with it.
"It pleasantly surprised me. There were more people at the golf event than there was at the athletics, so it was good to see. It really was. It seemed like it was a great atmosphere down there."
McIlroy added that Rose, who held off Stenson for the gold medal, was "the right winner" in the end.
"Justin was a great winner," McIlroy said. "He was on board from the start."
Back in July, in a press conference before the Open Championship at Troon
, McIlroy had made the comments about what he planned to watch during the Olympic Games. His answer: "Probably the events like track and field, swimming, diving. The stuff that matters."
Golf, which returned to the Olympic Games after a 112-year absence, was going to get lost, McIlroy previously had concluded.
"To see the turnout and see the crowd and everything, I was glad to be somewhat proven wrong," he said.
As for Jordan Spieth, he said he not only watched it, but now he wishes he had played.
"I really enjoyed it," Spieth said. "It came off, I thought -- tremendous for the game. I enjoyed watching the finish to the Olympics, and I wished I was there.
"At the time I made the decision, it was the right decision for me. I told you guys in that (Open Championship) press conference it was the hardest thing that I've had to do. The potential for regret was going to be there, and it certainly was while I was watching."
However, Dustin Johnson -- another golfer who skipped the Olympic tournament -- remains unmoved by golf's successful rebirth in Rio.
"It doesn't matter if it's the Olympics or what golf tournament it is, I don't really want to watch it," Johnson said Wednesday.
"I play enough golf. I don't need to watch."