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Dublin: 9 °C Sunday 21 December, 2014

‘Nobody at 23 should be asked to make that decision’ — Harrington’s sympathy for McIlroy’s Olympic choice

‘There’s going to be no winner out of this one.’

Pádraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy.
Pádraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy.
Image: Kin Cheung/AP/Press Association Images

JUST DAYS AFTER Rory McIlroy admitted he might just walk away from the decision about his Olympics participation, Pádraig Harrington admitted today he has ‘massive sympathy’ for the world No 1.

The Holywood native face the choice of playing for Team GB or teeing off under the tricolour in Rio in three years’ time.

McIlroy recently admitted in an interview with the Daily Mail that he feels ‘more British’ but later attempted to clarify his comments after a massive reaction south of the border.

Today, Harrington — who also hopes to be in Brazil – said: “I have massive sympathy as an Irishman and massive sympathy more so as a sportsman. No sportsman should have to make that decision. That’s it, straightforward — nobody at 23 years of age should be asked to make that decision.

“And the reality is there have been people in politics for the last 100 years who have tried to negotiate that and haven’t been able to. So why would you ask a 23-year-old just because he’s going to hit a little white golf ball? It’s very unfortunate and I think it is unfortunate in the sense that it means a great deal for golf for him to play. It’s a very big deal because golf is only on a trial period in the Olympics.”

The Dubliner, who was speaking ahead of the Volvo Golf Champions in South Africa, added: ”We have two runs at it and we do, as golfers, have to perform and put our best foot forward, so it would be nice if the world number one is there and he’s supporting the event. It’s an extraordinarily difficult decision. We need our best players to play in the Olympics to show that golf is serious in the Olympics.

“It would be nice if the Olympic Council said: ‘You can play in the Olympics’, or make the decision on their behalf. There’s going to be no winner out of this one whatever.”

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