RORY McILROY has revealed Paul McGinley played a significant role in persuading him to represent Ireland at the Olympic Games this summer.
The 27-year-old has twice played in the World Cup for Ireland alongside fellow Northern Ireland native Graeme McDowell, while he represented Ireland throughout his youth and amateur career.
Golf returns to the Games this year for the first time since 1904 and McIlroy – who is from Holywood in Co. Down – announced his intention to represent Ireland instead of Britain in June 2014.
Keen not to offend any of his legions of fans across the whole island, McIlroy has remained relatively quiet about the decision ever since, although with the event looming the world number three has opened up on who swayed his choice.
“Paul McGinley is the Irish team captain and he is so into it,” said McIlroy, who is preparing to get his injections ahead of the trip to Rio, with the Olympics to start on August 5.
“He's more into it than I am quite honestly, but because he is, I would feel like I am not only letting him down, I'd let the country down as well. Paul is a very close friend of mine and if I didn't play I'd let him down big time.
“That's why I want to go and give it my best shot. I'm going to get all my shots next week from the doctor on site at the Players (Championship), get my shots for Zika and everything else I need and go play four rounds really competitively and try to win a gold medal.”
Although one of the original sports of the Olympic Games, the return of golf to the event has been greeted with mixed reactions, and McIlroy admits Rio this year and Tokyo in 2020 may be his only chances of winning a gold medal.
“I'm not sure if we're going to have another opportunity to win a gold medal after that, depending on what happens," he added.