Rory McIlroy will play for Ireland at the 2016 Olympics

Shane Bacon
June 18, 2014
Rory
Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell walk behind the Irish flag at the 2011 World Cup — Getty Images

Do you know when an announcement is bigger than one man? When assembled media gives you a round of applause after you let them know your decision.

That happened on Wednesday at the Irish Open, with Rory McIlroy letting the world know that he made a decision on which country he would be representing at the 2016 Olympics, and that country is Ireland.

Why was he forced to decide on a country to play for when golf returns to the Olympics? McIlroy is from Northern Ireland, and with all the political issues the country has been through over the years, it was up to Rory to either pick Ireland or the United Kingdom for the upcoming Olympic games.

The issue caused such initial uproar from both countries that Rory hinted at skipping the Olympics all together, but he said this week that the World Cup going on in Brazil got his mind back on his decision for the upcoming Olympics and he wanted to be a part of Team Ireland when the world turns to Rio.

"I have been thinking about it a lot. I don't know if it is because the World Cup is in Brazil and I was thinking a couple of years down the line," McIlroy said in his press conference.

"I was thinking about all the times I have played for Ireland as a boy and everything. For me it is the right decision to play for Ireland."

The debate now turns to Rory's decision and if it was the right one, but that isn't really ours to debate. This was a decision McIlroy had to make for himself, and I'm sure it was a tough one, but now he can go on about his golf without worrying about what people might think when he does announce the flag he will play under at the 2016 Olympics.

It is also a smart one in the sense of qualifying for the Olympics. Ireland has some incredible professional golfers, but the talent pool is much more shallow than that of the U.K. If Rory had picked the United Kingdom over Ireland, he would be competing for a spot against Justin Rose, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and many others that could easily pass him in the qualification process.

With Ireland, it won't be nearly as hard to make the team for Rory (if that is even something he's worried about), and he will get to represent the same country he has in most of the team events he has played in over the course of his amateur and professional career.

All we really know is that a weight has been lifted off the shoulders of a young man that was worried about upsetting an entire country with a wrong decision. I expect Rory has a pretty good showing at the Fota Island Resort this week after that issue has finally been put to rest.