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Rory McIlroy rules out Olympic bid over conflicting loyalties

By Graham Luney

Rory McIlroy has revealed that he will not be competing at the 2020 Olympics. It's a move which will surprise few people after he said conflicting loyalties made him uncomfortable with declaring to be part of either a Great Britain or Ireland team for the Rio Games.

The 27-year-old opted to represent Ireland, before pulling out of Rio 2016 because of concerns about the Zika virus.

But the world number two, who feels burdened by the loyalty question, says he hasn't the hunger to compete at an Olympic Games.

"More likely than not I won't be going to the Games because of my personal feelings," said the Holywood ace.

"I have fought with myself over the decision for so many years.

"The Olympic Games are fantastic and I think golf's inclusion is fantastic, but for me it's something I don't want to get into. That's a personal choice and hopefully people respect that decision.

"It went well in 2016 and I hope it goes even better in 2020 but I probably won't be a part of it. If it upsets some people that's okay, I can't please everyone but as long as I am true to myself I'll be happy."

McIlroy — who will take part in his first tournament of the season, the South African Open, this week — is one of a host of the sport’s biggest names not to compete at the first Olympic golf event since 1904, with Team GB’s Justin Rose eventually taking the gold medal.

He has revealed how he “resents” the Olympics because of the way he was left feeling when he pulled out of representing Ireland in Rio.

McIlroy initially opted to represent Ireland rather than Great Britain before taking the decision not to participate at all.

“I started to resent it,” he said. “And I do. I resent the Olympic Games because of the position it put me in — that’s my feeling towards it — and whether that’s right or wrong, it’s how I feel.

“When it was announced in 2009 or whatever, all of a sudden it put me in a position where I had to question who I am. Who am I? Where am I from? Where do my loyalties lie? Who am I going to play for? Who do I not want to p*** off the most?”

McIlroy said he sent Rose a text after his victory but still did not feel as though he had made a mistake by deciding against competing.

Meanwhile, the four-time major champion begins the new year having not yet decided on what clubs he will play with but insists the player rather than the equipment is more important.

McIlroy is among a number of top stars who have been forced into a change following Nike’s withdrawal from the club manufacturing market.

He has been testing a number of options and will start the BMW SA Open — which starts tomorrow at Glendower and is hosted by Ernie Els — with Callaway woods and irons, Titleist wedges and balls and a Scotty Cameron putter.

He has been here before, however. In 2013 he struggled for form immediately after changing clubs as part of signing a multi-million pound deal with Nike.

However, McIlroy said his set-up could change on a regular basis until he settles on a favourite combination.

“They are picked for this week but that could change week to week,” he said. “This is my first event with those clubs so we will see how it goes this week.

“You never really know until you have a club in your hand and at the end of the day the person swinging the club is more important than the club itself.”

McIlroy is playing for the first time since finishing ninth at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

Belfast Telegraph

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