No sooner had the heated debate over which nation Rory McIroy would represent in the next Olympics been settled, than the controversy started to rage all over again.
On Tuesday, the chief executive of golf’s governing body suggested the Co Down-born double major winner may have no choice but to play for Ireland at Rio in 2016.
The statement by the Royal & Ancient’s Peter Dawson appeared to take the decision about whether Rory would represent Team Great Britain or Ireland out of the Holywood hero’s hands — a dilemma he had been agonising over.
Mr Dawson said this was because the 23-year-old had played for the Ireland team at amateur and World Cup level.
But yesterday another International Olympic Committee rule came to light.
It suggested that if three years have passed since the world number two represented Ireland, he could indeed play for Team GB.
It means the Co Down man’s painful decision-making is far from over, as the rule adds that the “period may be reduced or even cancelled”.
Last year McIlroy said he felt “more British than Irish” — sparking a row about his national identity. In September, he released an open letter on Twitter in response to the furore. It said: “I am in an extremely sensitive and difficult position and I conveyed as much in a recent newspaper interview.
“I am a proud product of Irish golf and the Golfing Union of Ireland. I am also a proud Ulsterman who grew up in Northern Ireland which is part of the United Kingdom. That is my background and always will be.
“I receive great support from both Irish and British fans alike and it is greatly appreciated.”
In January, McIlroy said: “If there was a Northern Irish team I’d play for Northern Ireland.”
He even suggested he might not play at all in the 2016 Olympics — because whatever decision he makes will undoubtedly offend someone.
McIlroy is yet to publicly comment on the allegiance issues raised over the last few days.
“A competitor who has represented one country in the Olympic Games, in continental or regional games or in world or regional championships... and who has changed his nationality or acquired a new nationality, may participate in the Olympic Games to represent his new country provided that at least three years have passed since the competitor last represented his former country.”
The Olympic Charter