McIlroy, Woods talk up Olympic ambitions

Rory McIlroy has said he is likely to represent Ireland at the 2020 Olympic Games, while Tiger Woods is also keen to participate in Tokyo.

Golf returned to the Olympic programme, after a 112-year absence, in Rio in 2016, but McIlroy was one of several leading players who opted not to play due to concerns over the Zika virus.

Asked about the Tokyo Games in a news conference at this week’s US PGA Championship, McIlroy said: “I don’t know. More likely than not I will play. I think it would be a great experience.

“It’s just one of those things where it’s just in the middle of a really busy stretch. But yeah, right now in my mind I’ll most likely play.”

Prior to his withdrawal from the Rio Olympics, McIlroy announced he would represent Ireland rather than Great Britain.

On Tuesday, he added: “I think as a young boy it was always my dream to play for Ireland. I wanted to play for Ireland. I was very proud to put on that shirt or that blazer.

“It’s the same as like the rugby players, right? There’s players that play for Ulster, but they want to play for Ireland. It’s seen as a whole island sport, just like hockey is, just like most of the sports are.

“I had an unbelievable amateur career, and I don’t mean that in terms of results, but I mean that in the experiences I had and the trips that I had and the friendships that I made and the friendships that I still have to this day. That was all because of playing for Ireland and getting close to some of those guys.

“I’m excited to be going to the Olympics. I’m excited to play for Ireland. It’s going to be a great experience, and probably a little bit nostalgic because it’ll bring me back to 15 years ago, whenever I was doing that with the same people. So it’s going to be cool.”

In an earlier news conference, resurgent Masters champion Woods said: “Would I like to play in the Olympics? Yes. I’ve never played in the Olympics, and I’m sure that I won’t have many more opportunities going forward at 43 years old now to play in many Olympics.

“Yes, that would be a first for me and something that I would certainly welcome if I was part of the team.

“Getting there and making the team is going to be the tough part. How many events do I play, do I add a couple more to get in? These are all questions that will be answered going forward. I just know that if I play well in the big events like I did this year, things will take care of itself.”