We’re still about four years out from the Rio Games, but Irish Olympic committee chair Pat Hickey is already making pleas and concessions in hopes world No. 1 golfer Rory McIlroy will represent Ireland when his sport returns to the Olympics in 2016.
“I will say to Rory that if he declares for Ireland, then he will automatically put himself in pole position to carry the Irish Tricolor into the Olympic stadium in Rio,” Hickey told the Daily Telegraph.
“Can you just imagine what something like this would do for Rory McIlroy? It would suddenly catapult him into the realms of being one of the most instantly recognizable sporting faces on the planet.”
To be fair, the fact that McIlroy is the best athlete in one of the world’s most popular sports has probably done a good job of raising his worldwide profile. Hickey added that he thought Rory made “rash comments” and was “immature” when he recently said that he’s always felt more British than Irish.
McIlroy has since backed off those comments, saying he’s still not sure which team he’ll play for in Rio.
But, it’s probably not a good sign for Hickey or Ireland that McIlroy, who was born in Northern Ireland and can choose between the Irish and British team, was wearing the English flag like a cape while celebrating Europe’s dramatic Ryder Cup win last month. No Irish tricolor was in sight.