Belfast Telegraph

Rory McIlroy: I don't know the words to Irish or British anthem - I don't feel a connection to either flag

Rory McIlroy initially expressed fears of the Zika virus.
Rory McIlroy initially expressed fears of the Zika virus.
Claire Williamson

By Claire Williamson

Rory McIlroy has told how he pulled out of the 2016 Rio Olympics because didn't feel a connection to either the Irish or British flag - and how he resents the organisation for making him choose.

The Holywood golfing star had the choice to play for either Team Ireland or Great Britain and chose Ireland after a lengthy deliberation process.

However the four-time Major tournament winner withdrew expressing fears of the Zika virus.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent McIlroy said he "resents" the Olympics for forcing him to make a decision.

"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 piss off the most.

"I started to resent it and I do. I resent the Olympics Games because of the position it put me in, that's my feelings towards it, and whether that's right or wrong, it's how I feel."

McIlroy said he exchanged texts with Englishman Justin Rose who triumphed at the games. He said had he been taking part he would have felt "uncomfortable" either way.

He said: "I sent Justin Rose a text after he won, I think I still have the message: 'I'm happy for you, mate. I saw how much it means to you. Congratulations.

"He said: 'Thanks very much. All the boys here want to know do you feel like you missed out?'

"I said: 'Justin, if I had been on the podium (listening) to the Irish national anthem as that flag went up, or the British national anthem as that flag went up, I would have felt uncomfortable either way.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with the trophy during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with the trophy during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with the trophy during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with the trophy during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reacts to his shot on the 14th tee during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the 16th tee during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland acknowledges the crowd on the 16th green during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the 16th tee during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays a shot on the 14th hole during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays a shot on the 17th hole during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays a shot on the 17th hole during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays a shot on the 14th hole during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reacts to his shot on the 14th hole during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reacts after his putt on the 17th green during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland acknowledges the crowd on the 17th green during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland putts on the 17th green during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland putts on the 17th green during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland lines up a putt on the 17th green during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reacts to his shot on the 14th tee during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the 14th tee during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the 14th tee during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays a shot from a bunker on the 17th hole during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the 14th tee during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays a shot from a bunker on the 17th hole during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the 15th tee during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reacts to his shot from the 15th tee during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks on on the 16th green during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the 15th tee during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland watches his shot on the 16th green during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland putts on the 16th green during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland watches his shot on the 16th green during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland watches his shot on the 16th green during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland waits on the 16th green during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland acknowledges the crowd on the 16th green during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland watches his shot on the 16th green during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland watches his shot on the 16th green during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, tees off on the third hole during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship golf tournament in Norton, Mass., Monday, Sept. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the ninth tee during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, holds up his ball after putting out on the second hole during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship golf tournament in Norton, Mass., Monday, Sept. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the ninth tee during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays a shot from a bunker on the seventh hole during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland acknowledges the crowd on the fourth green during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays a shot from a bunker on the seventh hole during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland acknowledges the crowd on the fourth green during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the fifth tee during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the fifth tee during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the fifth tee during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 5, 2016 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

"I don't know the words to either of them; I don't feel a connection to either flag; I don't want it to be about flags; I've tried to stay away from that."

He added: "Not everyone is (driven by) nationalism and patriotism and that's never been me, because I felt like I grew up in a place where I wasn't allowed to be. It was suppressed.

"I'm very conflicted because I'm a Catholic and I turned on the TV at home and it was the BBC; I did my GCSEs; I used pounds sterling, stuff like that.

"So I'm a Catholic but I feel very much Northern Irish, and I never wanted it to get political or about where I'm from, but that's what it turned into. And it just got to the point where it wasn't worth the hassle."

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