You would think Rory McIlroy might have been able to enjoy winning for the third time in his last four outings, but last week he was caught in the middle of a touchy tug-of-war between Northern Ireland and England.
One day after telling a reporter that he felt "more British than Irish," the native of Holywood, County Down, Northern Ireland, posted a letter claiming he has not decided which country he will play for when golf returns to the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
"I wish to clarify that I have absolutely not made a decision regarding my participation in the next Olympics," wrote the 23-year-old, the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world.
"The Games in Rio are still four years away, and I certainly won't be making any decisions with regards to participating anytime soon."
McIlroy, who has teamed with Graeme McDowell to represent Northern Ireland in the World Cup of Golf, released his statement after his original comments made headlines in both countries.
This is the first time he has publicly expressed a preference for England, and he apparently was afraid it might not go over well in Northern Ireland.
"I am a proud product of Irish golf and the Golfing Union of Ireland and am hugely honored to have come from very rich Irish sporting roots, winning Irish Boys, Youth and Amateur titles and playing for Ireland at all levels," said McIlroy, who won the PGA Championship in August after claiming the U.S. Open last year. "I am also a proud Ulsterman who grew up in Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.
"Having just won three out of my last four tournaments, including a second major championship, I was hoping my success on the golf course would be the more popular topic."
--The 2012 Andalucia Masters, scheduled for Valderrama Golf Club in Sotogrande, Spain, on Oct. 18-21, has been canceled, the European Tour has announced.
The Junta de Andalucia confirmed its decision to pull out as title sponsor because of the financial crisis in Spain.
"This is extremely disappointing news to receive, especially at such a late date," said George O'Grady, chief executive officer of the European Tour. "We have been long term partners with the Junta for over 25 years.
"In that time we have seen together with many other events, the Volvo Masters staged in Andalucia from 1988-2008, two American Express World Golf Championships, won by Tiger Woods in 1999 and Mike Weir in 2000, and the jewel in the crown, the 1997 Ryder Cup played at Club de Golf Valderrama.
" ... We will work with the Junta to rectify this situation both now and in the future."
The Andalucia Masters is the third golf tournament in Spain to fall victim to the financial crisis this year, joining the Madrid Masters and the Castello Masters.
Last year, Sergio Garcia captured the Andalucia Masters and the Castello Masters, and Lee Slattery of England claimed the Madrid Masters.
--Arnold Palmer became the sixth athlete to receive the Congressional Gold Medal during a ceremony in his honor in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives, along with Harry Reid, Senate majority leader, were involved in the presentation along with Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Senator Mitch McConnell.
"I am very humbled," Palmer said before adding a joke at the end of the 1-hour, 15-minute ceremony. "I'm particularly proud of anything the House and the Senate agree on."
The Congressional Gold Medal, which dates to the American Revolution, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which Palmer received in 2004, are the highest civilian awards in the United States.
Each medal is created by the U.S. Mint individually to honor the individual and achievements for which the medal is awarded.
Jack Nicklaus, Palmer's biggest rival, and country music singer Vince Gill also took part in the ceremony.
"Arnold Palmer was the everyday man's hero," Nicklaus said. "From the modest upbringing, Arnold embodied the hard-working strength of America. ... The game has given so much to Arnold Palmer, but he has given back so much more."
Sponsorship by two-thirds of the membership of the Senate and House is required before the bill goes to committee.
Other athletes who have received the Congressional Gold Medal include baseball's Roberto Clemente and Jackie Robinson, track and field's Jesse Owens, boxing's Joe Louis and another golf legend, Byron Nelson.
--Alvaro Quiros of Spain, one of the longest hitters in golf, has signed on to work with instructor Butch Harmon, who tutored Tiger Woods in the early part of his career.
The 29-year-old Quiros has won six times on the European Tour but has never finished in the top 25 in seven starts on the PGA Tour.
"He hits it a long way, but where he hits it from (on his next shot) is the weakest part of his game," said Harmon, whose clients also have included Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Nick Watney and Gary Woodland.
"Like with Gary, he has a lot to learn. The exciting part is that also like Gary, he has a lot of natural talent. Anytime you can hit the ball as far as he does, that's a big advantage."
Quiros ranks second on the European Tour in driving distance at 313.4 yards and would be 10th on the PGA Tour at 305.6 yards, but he is not a member.
Harmon and Quiros will work for the first time next month in Las Vegas, where Harmon is based, and they also will spend time at World Golf Championships and the major championships.
--Ricoh Company Ltd., a technology and document services corporation, has extended by four years its title-sponsorship agreement with the Ricoh Women's British Open, through the 2016 tournament.
Ricoh has been title sponsor of the event, co-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour and the PGA Tour, since 2007.
When Ricoh took over as title sponsor in 2007, the tournament was played for the first time on the Old Course at St. Andrews. It was played for the first time last year at Carnoustie, where Yani Tseng successfully defended her title.
Jiyai Shin of South Korea won the tournament last week, when it was contested for the first time at Royal Liverpool.
The Women's British Open was first played in 1976 and has been an LPGA Tour major since 2001.