Here’s the quote, folks. “I think golf in the Olympics is a great thing, and it went so good last year and I hope it goes even better in 2020. I just probably won’t be a part of it.” – Rory McIlroy, speaking with reporters before this week’s BMW SA Open Championship.
First of all, what the f does “just probably” mean, Rory? You’re screwing us scribes out of writing “Rory McIlroy won’t be playing in the 2020 Olympics” headlines!
Screw it. We’re going to assume Rory is opting out.
But really, before we start the pile on and public quartering, let’s listen to what Rory has to say:
“Just because of my personal feelings towards — not the Olympic Games, the Olympic Games are great and I think golf included in the Olympics is fantastic — but for me, it’s just something I don’t want to get into. That’s a personal choice and hopefully people respect that decision.”
“It’s not to say where I’m from is a bad place. Northern Ireland is one of the best places on Earth, and I try to get back there as much as I can. But again, it’s a personal decision and it’s a decision I haven’t taken lightly and a decision I’ve fought myself over for so many years.”
Forget about his Zika excuse or any of the crap that happened in the lead-up to Rio. Forget about calling Rory a privileged brat who refuses to give back to the game which has given him so much. The core issue, for Rory McIlroy, seems to be what we thought it would be years ago.
Dude is in a no-win situation: If he plays for Ireland, he pisses a lot of people off as he turns his back on Northern Ireland (which competes as part of Great Britain), which is where he’s actually from. And if he competes for Great Britain, he looks like a traitor to the island of his birth, and the country where he played much of his amateur golf.
The relationship between Ireland and Northern Ireland hasn’t exactly been copacetic if you recall, you know, the 20th century. I mean, fire up your Google machine and type in “The Troubles.”
Seriously, I don’t want to go all gray-haired history teacher here, but if you don’t know/remember a little bit about the Northern Ireland/Ireland conflict, take two minutes and watch this video.
If he doesn’t play, people are pissed. If he plays for Ireland, people are pissed. If he plays for Great Britain, people are pissed. This was the situation we knew Rory McIlroy would find himself in way back in 2009. The “to play or not to play” drama and “I won’t watch the Olympics stuff” of last year merely glossed over Rors’ core issue: Who to play for.
It seems he’s decided not playing for anyone is the path of least resistance.
Can you really blame him?