Is Rory McIlroy better at golf or interviews? At this point it’s unclear.
The four-time major champion brought it again in a recent chat with the Irish Independent‘s Paul Kimmage.
In the course of the conversation, the Olympics came up and McIlroy didn’t hide anything. In fact, he explained that his candid criticism of the Olympics, in an enthralling press conference at last year’s British Open, arose after a question about Jordan Spieth saying his withdrawal from Rio was the most difficult decision he’d ever made.
“I’d had nothing but questions about the Olympics – ‘the Olympics, the Olympics, the Olympics’ – and it was just one question too far,” McIlroy told Kimmage. “I’d said what I needed to say. I’d got myself out of it, and it comes up again. And I could feel it. I could just feel myself go ‘Poom!’ and I thought: ‘I’m going to let them have it.’ ”
McIlroy, who withdrew from The Games prior to the action, later applauded golf’s 2016 return to the Olympics in Rio.
As for his comments about not getting into golf to grow the game, he clarified further there.
“Okay, I went a bit far. But I hate that term ‘growing the game’. Do you ever hear that in other sports? In tennis? football (Editor’s Note: He’s probably referring to soccer)? ‘Let’s grow the game,’ ” McIlroy said. “I mean, golf was here long before we were, and it’s going to be here long after we’re gone. So I don’t get that, but I probably went a bit overboard.”
Despite McIlroy congratulating a nice bit of golf down in Rio, he still says the sport in the Games doesn’t mean that much to him. And his attitude toward the Olympics is actually more than a casual indifference.
McIlroy harbors a deep disdain for what The Games made him do.
Before withdrawing, McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, had to make a decision on which team to represent, Ireland or Great Britain.
He would eventually choose Ireland prior to his decision to not attend, but the whole process of having to decide between which country to represent was a big battle that fostered some deep wounds.
“All of a sudden (I was) 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 Olympic 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 also explained that he congratulated Justin Rose on his gold medal win, and when the Englishman asked whether McIlroy felt he missed out, the Northern Irishman responded by saying if he had medaled and been on the podium, he would have “felt uncomfortable” whether he had represented Ireland or Great Britain.
As McIlroy noted, he doesn’t know the words to either anthem nor feels a connection to either flag.
“Not everyone is (driven by) nationalism and patriotism and that’s never been me,” McIlroy said. “I felt like I grew up in a place where I wasn’t allowed to be.”
Some deep stuff from McIlroy. A nice reminder that the Olympics, while widely popular, may not be for everyone. It’ll be very interesting to hear what McIlroy has to say when the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo are near.