A native of Northern Ireland who previously represented Ireland in competition as a youth but currently carries a British passport, McIlroy has made no qualms about feeling torn regarding which country he might represent when golf returns to the Olympics in three years. A report from The Independent includes extensive comments from Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R&A, who notes existing rules may force McIlroy's hand – though his statements are not exactly ironclad.
'I think, because Rory's history [is] of playing for Ireland at amateur level and I think at World Cup level, that there may be a regulation within the Olympic rules that would require him to stay with that,' explained Dawson, who serves as the head of golf's ruling body in Europe and throughout much of the world. 'It's quite ambiguous really but there is a rule that a player who has represented one nation at a previous world championships from certain countries, that carries with you.'
With allegiances torn between Ireland and Great Britain, McIlroy had earlier this year considered skipping the Olympics because choosing a side might 'upset too many people.'
'I just think being from where we’re from, we’re placed in a very difficult position,' he said at the time as part of a BBC documentary. 'I feel Northern Irish and obviously being from Northern Ireland you have a connection to Ireland and a connection to the UK. If I could and there was a Northern Irish team, I’d play for Northern Ireland.'
Continuing with his comments, Dawson appeared to empathize with McIlroy's plight.
'I would very much like to take this burden of choice away from the player if we can possibly do it because it's not fair to him,' added Dawson, who according to the report expects 'all the leading players' to participate in 2016. 'I think he's made it pretty clear in one or two pronouncements that he's worried about it and the last thing we want is players worrying about this.'