Speaking after the Open Championship at Royal St. George’s a few weeks ago, McIlroy was brutally honest about his thoughts heading into the Olympics. Don’t expect the Northern Irishman to contend for a medal this year with the mindset he has coming into the tournament.
Rory McIlroy leads Team Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics
Heading into the golf competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, the Americans clearly hold the upper hand. Team USA boasts four players that have a combined 32 PGA Tour victories and four major championships, and the three biggest betting favorites to win gold are all from the United States.
But if anyone is going to stop the superteam, it might be McIlroy.
McIlroy is the highest name on the odds board not from the USA. At +1200 to win gold, he’s behind only Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, and Justin Thomas on the list. Shane Lowry at +2200 is the only other player representing Ireland in golf this weekend.
McIlroy not too thrilled about playing in the Olympics
Most professional golfers have already expressed great excitement about representing their home country in the Olympics for the first time. It’s a rare opportunity only a small percentage of athletes ever get to accomplish, so it means a lot to a majority of the field.
But not McIlroy.
“I mean, look, I’m not a very patriotic guy,” he said after the Open Championship earlier this month.
“I’m doing it because I think it is the right thing to do. I missed it last time, and for golf to be an Olympic sport, you need your best players there. I feel like I want to represent the game of golf more than anything else.”
McIlroy isn’t too worried about bringing home a medal for Ireland this weekend. He’s just going to use the Olympics as a glorified practice session to fine-tune his game for the FedEx Cup playoffs.
“I don’t know if there is much to look forward to. It’s obviously going to be a very different environment,” McIlroy said. “I’m looking forward to getting another week’s golf in and trying to get my game in shape. There is not much else to do there, so 12 hours a day on the golf course … hopefully, I get my game in a little better shape.”
Don’t expect McIlroy to fly home with an Olympic medal around his neck
Golf hadn’t been an event in the Olympics in over 100 years before it finally returned in 2016. Professional golfers today didn’t grow up dreaming of wearing a gold medal around their necks because — well, it wasn’t an option.
That’s part of the reason why McIlroy isn’t excited to wear his country’s colors in Tokyo this weekend. He’s never pictured what winning an Olympic medal would feel like, so he doesn’t really seem to care.
“I don’t know what it would mean [to win a medal],” McIlroy said. “I never dreamed of that. I dreamed of Claret Jugs and green jackets. I never dreamed of winning the Olympics, so I don’t know what it would mean until you actually got one.
“It’s a hard one to put into words. If it wasn’t an option for you growing up and dreaming about it, so what’s the …. maybe I could articulate it a little better if I was in possession of one.”
McIlroy has admitted in the past that the lack of fans during the COVID-19 shutdown hurt his golf game as such an emotional player. Well, that’s going to be the case again this week at Kasumigaseki Country Club.
It might be up to Shane Lowry to bring Ireland an Olympic medal in golf this year.