Golf

Rory McIlroy Isn’t Afraid to Skip a Golf Tournament But He’ll Finally Represent Ireland in the Olympics

Rory McIlroy has a long history of skipping golf tournaments, especially if he isn’t playing his best. McIlroy skipped the 2009 Ryder Cup. He called the tournament “a great spectacle but an exhibition there to be enjoyed.” When asked why he dropped out, the now-31-year-old said the Ryder Cup wasn’t that important to him. Golf fans saw McIlory skip again for the Olympics in 2016. It caused many to wonder if he’ll represent the Olympics in 2020.

Rory McIlroy’s history of skipping tournaments

As mentioned, the golfer skipped the 2009 Ryder Cup. McIlroy later admitted he regretted his comments and had real respect for the competition. He said, “Last year when I said ‘exhibition,’ I was not focused on a team event. It’s definitely it’s a great spectacle, not an exhibition.”

In 2011, the four-time major champion also opted out of the Players Championship. McIlroy mentioned his dislike for the tournament’s Sawgrass course. He said, “I find it very awkward off the tee.” Later, McIlroy acknowledged he made a mistake saying, “Looking back on it, it wasn’t one of my brightest moments.” 

In 2013, McIlroy withdrew from the Honda Classic after eight holes in the second round due to problems with a sore wisdom tooth. He said, “I had begun to affect my playing partners because it was very painful and I was unable to concentrate.”

McIlroy skips the 2016 Olympic games

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The 2016 Olympics was primed to be golf’s historic return to the games after 112 years of absence. This decision came after the International Golf Federation persuaded the Olympic Committee to vote in golf for the 2016 and 2020 Summer Olympics. 

For many, winning an Olympic gold medal may not be as significant as winning the Masters or PGA Championship. According to PGA.com, however, McIlroy believes the sport should put its best foot forward since golf now has a spot for the next two Olympic games. 

However, the 2016 Summer Games were fraught with complications for the International Golf Federation. Including McIlroy, 21 male golfers dropped out of the event. McIlroy showed a commitment to competing in Rio and receiving vaccinationsons per travel recommendations. Then, he decided the risks from the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne virus linked to congenital disabilities, outweighed the potential rewards. 

Change of heart for the 2020 Olympic Games

After opting out of the Rio Games, McIlroy’s position on the 2020 Olympics had been unclear until now. The Tokyo Summer Games got postponed to July 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But McIlroy reiterated his commitment to competing and representing Ireland in the Olympics. The Northern Irishman could’ve opted to play for either Ireland or Team GB, which covers Northern Ireland and Great Britain. 

In 2012, he faced criticism when he suggested he might represent Britain because he felt more British than Irish. But McIlroy later clarified his statement and pledged his allegiance to Ireland. He said that representing Ireland since his amateur days was a deciding factor.

McIlroy is looking forward to competing in the Olympics, saying that it will be a great experience. The golfer recently faced criticism for not playing this year’s Dubai Duty-Free Irish Open. But Irish golf fans are happy that he’s committed to the Olympics.

McIlroy moves forward

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland in 2020 | Harry How/Getty Images

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During last week’s Zozo Championship game, details USA Today, McIlroy set a new career-best of 29 birdies over 72 holes. But he carded three double bogeys and eight bogeys to finish tied for 17th. Although he had a disastrous opening day where he fell nine behind the clubhouse leader and dropped seven shots,

McIlroy recovered impressively with 67 consecutive rounds before shooting 66 on Sunday. But he was too far behind, and Patrick Cantlay emerged the winner. This doesn’t deter McIlroy, who’s now focused on the upcoming Masters. He told reporters that he’d be working to limit mistakes in the future.

[Correction, 11/12/20: An earlier version incorrectly attributed criticism coming from the Golfing Union of Ireland]