Rory McIlroy has admitted that the heartfelt reaction by fans to his decision to choose the Great Britain team over the Irish team for the Rio2016 Olympics has led him to think deeply about his decision.
Speaking ahead of the Tour Championship in Atlanta, Georgia, the 23-year-old champion golfer said, “After everything that happened last week it definitely makes me reconsider my position and reconsider a lot of things. I think it just really hit home with me how important it is for a lot of people and how important my success has been to them.
“Obviously, I’ve had a lot of support from all sides — from people that call themselves Irish, from Northern Irish, to the whole of the UK, to people over here in the States. It just hit home with me at how my success is welcomed by everyone.”
McIlroy went on to insist that his decision was by no means final and that he has plenty of time to think about his decision before the Olympics in 2016. He added that choosing one team over another would be difficult for him as he does not want to detach himself from any group of people who support his game.
He continued, “It would be terrible for me to nearly segregate myself from one of those group that supports me so much.
“It’s four years away — I still have a bit of time to decide. But, I’m very, very appreciative and very grateful of the support that I get from everyone. It’s great that I get so much support. There are not many people in my position that have to go through what I might have to go through in four years’ time, but it is what it is.
“I’m a golfer first and foremost and I just want to play well on the golf course. Hopefully people enjoy that and the entertainment that that brings.”
Last week, McIlroy said that he was choosing to represent Team GB (Team Great Britain) over the Irish team. He said he chose Great Britain because of “the fact is I have always felt more British than Irish”.
In the past McIlroy has represented Ireland on numerous occasions having played alongside Graeme McDowell in the golf World Cup.
McIlroy also told the press conference that he entirely dismisses “The Intimidator” comments from Greg Norman. The Australian pro said that the Northern Ireland golfer, McIlroy, instills fear in Tiger Woods.
Norman said, “What I’m seeing is that Tiger’s really intimidated by Rory…I think he knows his time is up.”
McIlroy, the current world number one golfer, denies this. He said, “No, how can I intimidate Tiger Woods? I mean, the guy’s got 70-whatever PGA Tour wins, 14 Majors, he’s been the biggest thing ever in our sport.
“How could some little 23-year-old from Northern Ireland with a few wins come up and intimidate him? It’s just not possible. I don’t know where he (Norman) got that from, but it’s not true.”
When asked if he has ever been intimidated by Woods he said, “I don’t think intimidated is the right word, more just in awe of his achievements, but never intimidated.”