Rory must learn to keep mum
Last updated: 7th January 2013
Northern Ireland's World No 1 golfer Rory McIlroy has an unfortunate habit of putting his foot in it - and he seems to have done it again.
This time he's stirred up controversy at home with his suggestion that he might not compete for a Gold Medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games because of the political implications
To be fair to the young man, the subject was not something he brought up himself. He may even have hoped it wouldn't be brought up at all, but when it was broached by the radio journalist in an hour-long interview with him in Brisbane, Australia, where he has been spending time with girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki during her buildup to the up-coming Australian Open tennis Grand Slam event, he freely admitted that he was strongly considering giving Rio a miss because of the political mine-field it would put him in.
It was an answer that won't please either the Irish, the British or those golf officials who might well see this 23-year-old super star as being a major key in growing the game world wide and who will have been hoping his presence at the 2016 Olympics would brighten the spotlight on the first Olympic golf championship in nearly a century - golf was last part of the Olympics in 1924.
Sadly, McIlroy is in the unenviable situation of knowing that what ever decision he makes, be it a no to Rio, a yes to Ireland or a yes to Britain, will upset a great number of people, many of them his fans.
For as a Catholic citizen of Northern Ireland who has represented the Republic of Ireland as an amateur golfer but has travelled extensively on a British passport, he has his feet in more than one camp and both camps would dearly love to see him flying their colours in Brazil in 2016.
McIlroy could have made things so much easier for himself if he had carefully avoided the Olympic question in Oz and instead pointed out that because 2016 was still a long way off, he preferred not to comment at this time - and left it at that.
The happy-go-lucky multi-millionaire from an Ulster home town suitably called Holywood clearly shows that he loves where he at in his life right now and, I suspect, likes to please the media by answering their questions frankly and truthfully.
Unfortunately some of those questions are loaded and because he is still so young and trusting, he too often blithely says what he thinks without a thought for the consequences.
Transparency is valued by most of us, to be sure, and the media loves a good controversy, but for his own good, Rory McIlroy is going to have to learn that there are times when he should hold up his hands and politely say "no comment" or "I would prefer not to answer that question, thank you".
In the meantime lets hope that some sort of behind-the-scenes compromise can be worked out that will enable us to see this great golfing talent, still in his mid 20s, fighting it out with the likes of Tiger Woods for the first men's Olympic Gold golf medal in 92 years.
That is, of course, if he is still playing the kind of golf that he did this year when he dominated the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic, won a second major at the US PGA Championship, won back-to-back tournaments in the US PGA Tour's FedEx Cup play-offs and then topped the season by hurrying back to the European Tour and clinching the Race To Dubai by winning the DP World Tour Championship at the Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai.
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