McDowell Likely to Play for Ireland in 2016 Olympics

For the past couple of years Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell has been facing a dilemma - and frequent questions - over which country he'll represent in the 2016 Rio Olympics, the first time in over a century that golf will be an event in the quadrennial summer competition.

Northern Ireland, a province of the United Kingdom, will be part of a combined team with England, Wales and Scotland competing as Great Britain. The question is whether McDowell - as well as fellow Ulsterman Rory McIlroy - will instead represent Ireland in Rio.

McDowell's doing just that this week in the World Cup of Golf at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia, as he's on the Ireland team with Shane Lowry, an Irishman.

"I believe that me being her and representing Ireland will, you know, with the Olympic regulations, will mean that . . . I will have to play for Ireland when it comes to the Olympics in 2016. Part of me feels relieved to not have to make that decision."

As for whether his decision to play with Lowry tipped the scales in Ireland's favor for Rio, he added, "It certainly did not enter into my reasons for wanting to be her this week," McDowell told Reuters Wednesday. "I wanted to be here and play with Shane, around Royal Melbourne, in a golf tournament which I have always loved."

McDowell and McIlroy have previously asked the International Olympic Committee to make a decision for which country they should represent in Rio to help make a determination once and for all.

"It has been a pretty touchy subject for us Northern Irish players over the last few years. We are in a very unique scenario . . . we have sporting teams, teams that are all-Ireland teams, teams that are individual Northern Ireland teams, part of the U.K., part of Great Britain.

"It is a very touchy political and religious subject, one that myself and Rory have not really enjoyed answering questions about the last few years . . . you are going to end up upsetting someone from either side really."

McDowell added that it hasn't been hard for him to be part of Ireland's teams in the past, noting "the golf bag with the Ireland logo on it . . . I have always enjoyed being part of that."