Graeme McDowell seeks guidance from IOC in bid to solve Olympic dilemma

Graeme McDowell. Picture: Getty
Graeme McDowell. Picture: Getty
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GRAEME McDowell wants some help in deciding which country he should represent at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The Northern Ireland golfer said yesterday he would like some guidance on whether he and top-ranked Rory McIlroy should play for Britain or Ireland when golf returns to the Olympics for the first time since 1924.

“Obviously Rory’s come under a lot of scrutiny in the last couple of months for kind of saying he might play for Great Britain,” McDowell said. “We’re kind of in a unique scenario in Northern Ireland in that we have one foot on each team. I think it’s going to be a lot easier if someone makes the decision for us.

“The Olympic committee should step in and say that ‘you guys are either playing for Ireland or you’re playing for Great Britain.”’

On the normal golf tours, Northern Ireland stands on its own alongside Ireland and the other three British nations – England, Scotland and Wales.

Last month, McIlroy said he had not made a decision on which country to represent. And the president of the Irish Olympic Committee, Pat Hickey, has denied reports that he said McIlroy could carry the Irish flag in the opening ceremony in Rio if he competed for that country.

Speaking at the BMW Masters in China, McDowell said he would be prepared to represent either Britain or Ireland. “I always say that I come from a mixed religion family,” McDowell said. “My mum’s Catholic and my dad is Protestant. And my mum would probably like me to play for Ireland, and my dad might like me to play for Britain.

“But then I always kind of sit on the fence because that’s exactly the only place I can sit. Let’s say that I’d play for whatever team we have come 2016.”

Meanwhile, McDowell and former world No 1 Luke Donald have waded into the debate over who should lead Europe in the 2014 Ryder Cup in Scotland by backing Ireland’s Paul McGinley. The European Tour is set to announce a replacement for the victorious Jose Maria Olazabal early next year, with Darren Clarke firm favourite to lead the defence of the trophy at Gleneagles. “Both Paul and Darren would be great captains in their own right, but then Paul has kind of forged a little niche for himself given the way he has conducted himself in the Seve Trophy and the Ryder Cup vice captaincy roles,” said McDowell.

“He’s a scholar of the game and a strategist and would probably be technically, if that’s the right word, a good captain. Darren would emotionally be a great captain and a great motivator, and also with that big personality he possesses.

“Darren’s credentials may be better, but I think he would make for a great captain in America as they love him over there. His personality suits America and they see him as the cigar-smoking Guinness-drinking, nice guy that he is. So, Darren would go down well in the States whereas Paul also has all those traits that would make for a great Ryder Cup captain.”

Donald, another member of the winning team at Medinah last month, said: “I believe that if he [McGinley] doesn’t get it this time, he probably won’t get it at all. Whereas, I feel like Darren will have other opportunities.

“So I would support McGinley as he’s been very diligent, very enthusiastic and whenever I have been around him I have enjoyed it. He just has a really good team vibe. He seems to think about the small things. Just what I’ve noticed.”