Rory McIlroy's true allegiance summed up in one text message to Justin Rose
"I resent the Olympic Games because of the position it put me in..."
Rory McIlroy couldn't win.
When golf was brought in by the IOC for Rio 2016, it seemed like an exciting idea at the time but then the reality quickly settled in for a man from county Down who considers himself Northern Irish.
McIlroy had two choices:
He could, of course, join Team GB and play for Great Britain and Northern Ireland but he'd be playing with a union jack beside his name and he'd be watching that flag rise in Brazil if he won anything at the tournament.
Or he could represent Team Ireland, as he initially decided, but a similar conundrum presented itself. McIlroy would be playing for the tricolour and he'd listen to Amhrán na bhFiann belt out as rewards for his success.
Neither proposition made the former world number one feel in any way comfortable so he opted out of going to Brazil and representing either team and either flag.
We're a long way from Zika concerns now.
McIlroy is a Catholic but he has grown up in the British model. His schooling, his exams, his television programmes and currency - everything about his everyday life - were of British influence. Granted, a lot of people up north have similar habits but still consider themselves as Irish as the next man. They're still as proud of the green, white and orange as any being from anywhere in the world. Not McIlroy though.
"Not everyone is driven by nationalism and patriotism," he told Paul Kimmage in an interview in the Sunday Independent.
He goes on to explain how he never wanted to get political and how, when golf was brought into the Olympics, he suddenly had to ask questions of himself and his loyalties and who he wanted to piss off the least with his decision.
As it turned out, his decision to withdraw probably pissed off everyone but he took himself out the position where his sport would suddenly become political.
For him, he's indifferent to either the Irish or the Great British flag. He enjoys watching Katie Taylor as much as he does Justin Rose. He enjoys the O'Donovan brothers' success in the Olympics as much as he does Mo Farah's. Yep, even Mo Farah's.
And, it was when he text Justin Rose to congratulate him on his gold medal that his true reason for withdrawing from the Olympics were revealed. Rose text him back saying that a lot of the boys were wondering how he felt missing out on the Olympics. McIlroy replied with an explanation, revealed in the Sunday Independent.
"If I had been on the podium (listening) to the Irish national anthem as that flag went up, or the British national anthem as that flag went up, I would've felt uncomfortable either way," he wrote to Rose.
He carried on.
"I don't know the words to either anthem," he said. "I don't feel a connection to either flag. I don't want it to be about flags; I've tried to stay away from that."
Hope no-one reminds him of the Northern Irish national anthem.