McIlroy may turn down chance to play in 2016 Olympics

LONDON Thu Jan 3, 2013 9:00pm IST

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland gestures at the 18th green after the fourth and final round of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai November 25, 2012. REUTERS/Jumana El Heloueh

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland gestures at the 18th green after the fourth and final round of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai November 25, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jumana El Heloueh

LONDON (Reuters) - World number one Rory McIlroy may reject the opportunity to compete at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro to avoid any controversy over which country to represent.

Twice major winner McIlroy, 23, said he was mulling whether to play for Britain or Ireland and he told the BBC that he might opt out of playing altogether.

"I just think being from where we're from, we're placed in a very difficult position. I feel Northern Irish and obviously being from Northern Ireland you have a connection to Ireland and a connection to the UK," McIlroy said.

"If I could and there was a Northern Irish team I'd play for Northern Ireland.

"Play for one side or the other - or not play at all because I may upset too many people´┐Ż Those are my three options I'm considering very carefully."

Golf will return to the Olympics for the first time since 1904 and McIlroy said in 2009 he would "probably play for Great Britain".

He echoed those feelings in an interview with the Daily Mail newspaper last year but regrets saying so.

"It was a moment, I don't want to say of weakness, but a moment of frustration with it all," he said.

"People tune in to watch me play on TV and feel like they are connected to me in some way. I don't want to repay them for their support with something they don't want me to do."

Last year McIlroy became the second player after Luke Donald in 2011 to win both order of merit titles either side of the Atlantic and he has a sizeable advantage in the world rankings over second-placed Donald going into the 2013 season.

(Writing by Tom Pilcher, editing by Ed Osmond)

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