Teaming with Shane Lowry under the Irish flag at this week's World Cup of Golf, Graeme McDowell is fully aware of what his participation at Royal Melbourne could mean for another international competition still three years down the road.
A native of Northern Ireland, McDowell has previously represented Ireland in multiple international competitions like the World Cup. When golf returns to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, though, athletes from Northern Ireland will join with those from England, Scotland and Wales to represent Great Britain. The entire situation has put Ulstermen like McDowell and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy in the unenviable position of choosing which side to represent in Brazil.
"It is a very touchy political and religious subject, one that myself and Rory have not really enjoyed answering questions about the last few years," said McDowell, according to a Reuters report. "It is very difficult to pick a side because you are going to end up upsetting someone from either side, really."
McDowell and McIlroy have both previously asked the International Olympic Committee to decide which country they should represent rather than having to choose themselves, though McDowell may have sealed his fate by teeing it up this week - a conclusion that the former U.S. Open champion appears ready to embrace.
"I believe that me being here and representing Ireland will, you know, with the Olympic regulations, will mean that ... I will have to play for Ireland when it comes to the Olympics in 2016," added McDowell, who will represent Ireland for the fourth time in the World Cup this week. "Part of me feels relieved to not have to make that decision."
The 34-year-old added that the potential resolution to his Olympic quandary was not a motivating factor for making the trip to Australia.
"It certainly did not enter into my reasons for wanting to be here this week," said McDowell. "I wanted to be here and play with Shane, around Royal Melbourne, in a golf tournament which I have always loved."