A gathering without spectators and a lack of buzz would also be without a very motivated McIlroy.
“I’m not a very patriotic man,” McIlroy said after the final round of The Open, where he scored the winner. Collin Morikawa and completed a seventh consecutive year without adding his four major championships.
“I do it because I think it’s the right thing to do. I missed it last time, and if golf is to be an Olympic sport, you need your best players there. I feel like I want to play golf more. represented as anything else. ”
If it looks like McIlroy is no longer excited about representing Ireland, it’s complicated.
McIlroy, a native of Northern Ireland, is well aware of the centuries-long strife in his homeland where the parties have chosen and fought wars. That it could become a problem in sport may be difficult to understand for outsiders, but it was very real for McIlroy, who said in an interview with the Daily Mail in 2012 that he identified more British than Irish .
This posed a problem. As an amateur golfer, McIlroy has played for the whole of Ireland. And yet, as a resident of Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, he would be eligible for his Olympic team. He had a choice – and it was not easy.
“What makes it such a terrible position to be in, since I grew up for Ireland all my life under the Golfing Union of Ireland umbrella,” he told the newspaper. But the fact is that I have always felt more British than Irish.
“Maybe that was the way I grew up. I do not know, but I have always had more of a connection with the UK than with Ireland. And therefore I have to weigh it against the fact that I have always played. For Ireland “So it’s hard. Whatever I do, I know my decision will upset some people, but I just hope the majority will understand.”
In time, McIlroy reconsidered it and finally decided that it would be best for him to compete for Ireland – which he would do with him. Shane Lowry (which comes from the Republic) this week.
McIlroy skipped the 2016 Games due to the Zika virus in Brazil, but he made this year’s Olympics a priority, even if it’s not exactly where he would like to be.
“I do not know if there is much to look forward to – it’s going to be a very different environment, of course,” McIlroy told The Open, noting that he would be limited to the golf course and its accommodation, like everyone else. the players. ‘I’m looking forward to getting another week of golf in and trying to get my game in shape. There is not much else to do there, so 12 hours a day on the golf course, hopefully I get my game a little better. ‘
McIlroy is honest, someone who may not always say what everyone wants to hear. And those who worked to make golf part of the Olympics certainly hoped for better. Both times, in 2016 and now, players have chosen to skip the tournament or to be forced due to health issues.
Dustin Johnson, then number 1 in the world, said earlier this year he would not participate. Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau, arranged first and sixth respectively out due to positive COVID-19 tests. South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen prefers not to play, just like Spain’s Sergio Garcia and Australia’s Adam Scott.
For McIlroy, the whole pandemic made him search for answers. He was just No. 1 in the world 13 months ago, but he fell to 15th despite a May victory at the Wells Fargo Championship.
McIlroy acknowledged that the lack of supporters has hurt him for most of 2020 and up to this year. While fans have returned to the PGA Tour and recently in large numbers at The Open, Kasumigaseki Country Club is not on site this week.
‘I keep saying that the good things are there; I make enough birds, but it’s just about trying to avoid the mistakes, ‘he said. ‘Whether it’s trying to be too aggressive when I put myself in a bad position or if it’s just putting me in a bad position to begin with, that’s the next step in progress. ‘
McIlroy still has a lot to play for in 2021, including a World Golf Championship the week after the Olympics, the playoffs of the FedEx Cup and the Ryder Cup. Two years ago, when McIlroy made a disappointing cut at The Open in Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, he jumped back to win the FedEx Cup.
He undoubtedly has similar ideas this time. And perhaps by finding a form this week when it is least expected, he can not only help carry the Olympics, but also find love for it.