Graeme McDowell expressed sympathy for Rory McIlroy but stuck to his tried and tested formula of sitting firmly on the fence when asked whether he would tee it up for Ireland or Team GB in the 2016 Olympic Games.
While he later backtracked in an Open Letter, McIlroy appeared to suggest he would opt for Great Britain and Northern Ireland when golf returns in Rio de Janeiro, explaining to the Daily Mail last week that he has always felt “more British than Irish.”
McDowell has stuck to his fence sitting posture since the question was first raised in 2009 and one wonders why McIlroy has never taken a similar tack.
In the eyes of many, it’s too late now for McIlroy to put the genie back in the bottle, despite his pronouncement this week that he is reconsidering his position.
“I felt kid of bad for Rory that the post BMW Championship press was very much focussed on Rory’s allegiance to which part of the world he was going to play for in the Olympics,” McDowell said in a telephone interview this week.
“My take on it is that it is four years away. Hopefully I will be in a position to be selected for one of the teams.
“What’s my allegiance? I really don’t have one. I sit on the fence because unfortunately that is where I have to sit.
“I come from a mixed religion background. I don’t want to upset my mum [Catholic], I didn’t want to upset my dad [Protestant], I don’t want to upset the people from Ireland I don’t want to upset the British people.
“We are in the unfortunate position in Northern Ireland where we have one foot on each team and I feel is a tough call.
“Rory is very much in the spotlight and has been coerced into making some kind of decision which let’s be honest, is four years down the road.”
McDowell has always adopted a wait and see stance in the hope that a blazer somewhere will make the choice for him
“It remains to be seen if we have to make that decision or if the Olympic committee makes that decision for us,” McDowell said. “It is a tough subject, a horrible subject and like I say, I sit on the fence.
“I will play for whatever team will take me, no doubt about it. You are always going to upset somebody when you have to declare allegiance for one side or the other and like I say, I’d prefer someone to make that decision for me. It is too difficult.”