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« WiFi And Spectating | Main | Ryder Cup Gets Its Very Own Celebrity-Am »

Rory Issues Open Letter On His "Cultural Identity"

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Reader Comments (42)

Rory is a hugely likable kid and it's a shame that he's going to get a lot of grief about his recent statement. Unavoidable, for sure, but still a shame. In a way, it's sort of reminiscent of the early Tiger years when he was trying to establish his multiculturalism, but the black on white racial chatter just overwhelmed that, in large part because of the very stupid Fuzzy incident at the masters. In any event, the black vs. white analogy might be apt in this situation because there are plenty of people of Irish descent who have very little regard for the British presence in Northern Ireland. This has all the earmarks of something that could be ugly, which is unfortunate, because Rory seemed to have brought this on completely by himself. It's yet another example of why most of these guys never make off-the-cuff statements. The media do a great job of slaughtering stupid/questionable statements and here we'll have the people of Ireland aiding them in fanning the flames. A shame.
09.10.2012 | Unregistered Commentertlavin
Has he ever represented any other than Ireland in team competition?
Pretty simple
09.10.2012 | Unregistered Commenterfwiw
rory has to learn to keep an arms length approach with the media, just as tiger has

but he has to learn it the same way tiger did...give him time...
09.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterElyse
He shouldn't have to pick a country at all. The IOC, alas, is built on nationalism as much as it was founded on amateurism. Only the best should be in major world sport. Who cares where they come from?
09.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterGolden Bell
It is certainly a very sensitive issue and I couldn't see how anything good could come out of the interview he gave. In Ireland we really support our sports stars and I suppose we have all supported Rory all throughout his career since he burst on to the scene when winning the West of Ireland as an incredibly gifted 15 year old and playing for Ireland ever since. Now that he is world number 1 I guess it isn't easy to be told that he essentially doesn't really regard himself as one of us and in reality he wants to play for another country/entity in the biggest of all sporting occasions - the Olympics. Its not a big deal but we are a relatively small country with a difficult history so no doubt this hurts. I think this has, unfortunately, damaged Rory significantly from the perspective of support in Ireland and in the USA (many Irish Americans I know have taken him to their hearts becuase they can relate to him). If only he would learn from GMac who handles these things brilliantly!
09.10.2012 | Unregistered Commentermunsterman
It's all the media's fault! Hilarious.
09.10.2012 | Registered CommenterGeoff
The Golfing Union of Ireland comprises both north and south elements so, on the basis that it is only an organization and not a country, there is no conflict here. What seems to be getting asked of Rory is that because he is catholic, he should therefore play for Republic of Ireland (Eire). Why? He was born in Northern Ireland, a country which comprises both catholic and protestant citizens.
Team GB if he's from a part of the world that it encompasses such as Northern Ireland. Religeon and previous team play have nothing to do with it. Plain and simple truth to this Yankee!
09.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmen Coroner
What would George Best do?
09.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
I said earlier he should not have opened this conversation right now, and I'll say it again. My guess is this distraction ruins his chances for the Reset Cup and proves unwanted at the Ryder Cup.
09.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPress Agent
Just to clarify Amen Coroner. The Irish Olymics Council is a 32 county organisation so it encompasses all of Ireland. Hence Team GB is Team GB not Team GB & Northern Ireland. Rory is technically from Northern Ireland - not Britain. The name of the entity is the United Kingdom of GB & Northern Ireland. He is entitled to play for Ireland or GB. Most Northern Irish athletes have played for Ireland in the Olympics which is an All Ireland entity. So its not that simply! We have a very very complicated history!
09.10.2012 | Unregistered Commentermunsterman
The sainted George never bothered his silly head with such trivia. He would have another drink and then head to Stringfellows to find another Miss World to ****.
09.10.2012 | Unregistered Commenterfourputter
The whole point is that due to the somewhat convoluted and disputed history of Ireland, it isn't plain and simple, that's why he will ultimately have a choice to make by virtue of the eligibility rules established by the IOC, which again allows NI competitors to represent Ireland or UK. Probably be an easier decision for him if the marketeers had managed to call it Team UK rather than Team GB?
09.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKieran
From the comments in the letter (and feeling like he had to issue the letter) it is seems like things are almost getting to the point where he probably wants to tell everyone to go screw themselves. I have to say that's what I would be considering doing - are the Olympics really worth all the grief, bile and stress he's going to get for the next four years about all this?

Unfortunately the genie is out of the bottle and despite the open letter, in which interestingly he didn't deny what he said or say he was misquoted etc, I think he's going to have difficulty moving on from this. I really feel for him - like he said we should all be talking about his recent achievements. Unfortunately there are too many people who think his nationality is far more important and will not be able to accept Rory's own feelings on the matter. It's very sad.
09.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJCA
You can't blame the media when a player opens mouth and inserts foot, but one can recognize that the media will spend plenty of time giving a platform to the real rabble rousers out there and I can't imagine a more sensitive political issue related to golf in a country that is pretty devoted to golf. This will get very ugly.

Having said that, I echo the munsterman who wished that Rory had the media savvy that GMac possesses. Very few do. He's a very gifted gabber and golfer, that's for sure.
09.10.2012 | Unregistered Commentertlavin
One more thought: I'm sure as hell glad that the Ryder Cup isn't being held at Bethpage Black. That would get ugly in a hurry. I'm pretty sure it won't be an issue in Chicago. Now, how's that for hometown ethnic ego? Us Chicago Irish are better behaved than New York Irish. Here's hoping that we don't have any overserved knuckleheads trying to get their voices heard on this issue in a couple weeks at Medinah.
09.10.2012 | Unregistered Commentertlavin
Sadly, this controversy was very predictable. It's a lose-lose situation for Rory. Whatever he decides he can't win and he'll upset an awful lot of fans. He'd be better off giving the Olympics a miss. Besides, golf should not be in the Olympics. I signaled all of this nonsense in my book, Life As A Way of Golf. I'm just surprised it has arisen so soon.
09.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterIvan Morris
Leave the Dead Rabbits out of it, tlavin.
09.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
Complicated history? Thats an understatement. Thanks munsterman but its hogwash cause he will do what he wants to do and he seems to be laying the groundwork to play for GB versus the ROI.
09.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmen Coroner
@Ivan Morris is right of course. Golf at the Olympics isn't worth a candle; purely a marketing device like soccer (each major country could put a thousand better teams into the competition than they actually do), or tennis, which was of little interest (other than if you're a Brit, Murray winning). In fact, other than some swimming and some athletics, the whole thing was a waste of time and money, albeit it was a delight to see and hear athletes who were personable, pleasant and articulate. Unfortunately, at least in Europe, athletes have become represented by the ubiquity in the media of vastly overpaid soccer players, whose behaviour is, in general, feral both on and off the field.

Rory should give it a miss. If he's still with Caroline by 2016, she won't let him near the village anyway, and if he continues to play as he's doing right now (which is probably impossible) he won't be able to walk unaided by then due to the weight of his wallet.
09.10.2012 | Unregistered Commenterfourputter
Buy a house in Florida and become a US citizen??
09.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterA3
1. He is not yet on any Olympic team, so leave it out.

2. @ munsterman: think what you like about your convoluted history -- and I mean that, there are lots of perspectives and many as valid as their opposite -- but Rory has not chosen to play for "another country." Get over it -- in official terms, it is the same country, as are Scotland and Wales when it comes to international matters. It has always struck me as one of the brighter things in a dark time that the Irish of North and South played as one "entity," to use your word, while their neighbours were shootin' the bejesus out of one another and generally making each other's lives miserable. It gave hope -- through golf! Let's not destroy fragile peace over something perfectly legitimate -- Rory's choice. And let's face it -- it's hardly analogous to Sophie's.

3. Darren Clarke has always seemed to be more comfortable associating with Irishness -- he was squirming through God Save tthe Queen at some Ryder Cup or other.

4. I wonder if the next Ryder Cup will be using the Londonderry Air, as is occasionally done in parts of NI for sporting events, though it has no status. In the old days the likes of Clarke could look misty eyed when Padraig's anthem was played and then fidget through GSTQ. Rory will doubtless be comfortable either way, and Europeans do not clamp their hands to their breasts every time an anthem strikes up, so it should all be perfectly civilised.
09.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterGhillie
Amen Coroner I fully agree with you in that he is almost certainly going to play for Team GB but I was simply saying that just because Northern Ireland is part of GB & NI doesn't mean everyone in Northern Ireland has the same affiliation with Britain. In fact the vast majority of athletes from Northern Ireland have represented the 32 county Irish team in the Olympics. I think is just a case of us Irish wanting Rory to win a gold medal in the Olmpics for us and we are a little hurt that he'll very likely be represented another team. Simple as that! At the end of the day it is up to him but methinks this issue has damaged Rory and it will raise its ugly head again unfortunately
09.10.2012 | Unregistered Commentermunsterman
Now guys you have to admit this - it would be great TV - GMac playing for Ireland coming down the back nine level with Rory representing Team GB, two good friends representing different teams fighting for a gold medal. Wow!
09.10.2012 | Unregistered Commentermunsterman
"I wish to clarify that I have absolutely not made a decision regarding my participation in the next Olympics."

What does that mean?
09.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Not to be too cynical, but don't you think part of the reason so many Northern Irish play on the Ireland teams is that those teams are easier to "make" (given that it is such a small country even when you add both parts of the Island of Ireland) than the UK team ? Obviously that will not be an issue for Rory, or at least it seems so right now, but if you were a cyclist or a runner or whatever, it seems that Ireland would be the team that would give you a better chance to actually go to the games.
09.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
DTF: it may mean that he has not ultimately decided which team he would like to play for, or it may mean that nobody can predict their form almost four years down the road.

Some of these decisions may not, in the final analysis, be Rory's. Doesn't he have to wait to be asked, or wait to see if he qualifies, to join a team? He is in the relatively rare position of being eligible to play for one of two different teams, and there are issues between the two nationalities,

Should the combined efforts of English, Scottish and Welsh golfers push him down a few lists, might he change his (seeming) allegiance? But if there is a continuing raft of NI golfers coming good at the rate they seem to be doing these days, will he be going cap in hand to the Irish to beg for a place -- if it is even allowable?

I think his letter, especially the phrase you highlighted, is trying to back-burner the whole thing. Which is where it should be for three years or more. Time enough for the teams to fight for Rory if he is still #1 and claiming a major or two a year, winning FedExes and WGCs, etc. When we see where he is, and who is around him, when the time comes, he can make his decision -- again, to the extent it is his choice. There are no current rules for golf in the Olympics that I am aware of, but I don't foresee "Captain's picks." The PGA Tour, and the ET, are not running this, as far as I know. When Woods can fail to qualify for a Ryder Cup, there is a Plan B. There may not be one for RIo -- make it or don't. But as I said we don't all have the luxury of trying to qualify for two teams,
09.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterGhillie

Not cynical at all! Because of its past "difficulties" NI's players of any sport were granted the right to choose whether they wished to play for either Ireland or the UK. And they can change backwards and forwards! The Irish international cricketers Morgan and Joyce have both played in recent years for England (in fact Morgan played today) - and they're Republic of Ireland men, although I do believe they need to have a residency qualification and possibly a British parent. There's nothing demeaning about this. Both countries are very small in population, and it was deemed that to give NI natives a better chance at international competition they could make the choice of countries, given that the competition to represent Ireland, purely for demographic reasons, is less fierce than England or GB (as an entity) - except in golf, rugby and hurling, of course. The dispensation was I believe part of the Good Friday agreement, and was an inspired political, conciliatory gesture which has a been a huge success.

To criticise Rory for making statements of fact seems absurd. He has a dilemma. Sooner or later he has to come up with an answer. Easiest solved but forgetting the Olympics as I posted earlier.
09.10.2012 | Unregistered Commenterfourputter
By 2016 he will be rich enough to buy Newfoundland outright from Canada and represent it.

And they have Irish accents there. So, it all works.
09.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRob
Just agree to switch national status to the team where he will knock out the less highly ranked player as there is a limit per "country"
09.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaboy
If he marries Wozniacki can he play for Denmark?
Rory forgot to add the following sentences to his statement: "Like all successful and wealthy Brits, I have changed my domicile to a more tax-friendly locale, which would include just about every place on Planet Earth. But best of luck to all of you paying your TV license fee."
09.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterManos
"But the fact is, I’ve always felt more British than Irish."

Ghillie, pretty hard to backtrack and choose to play for Ireland after saying that huh?

And would he really consider not playing the Olympics?

So, the other quote is complete BS. (and poorly written to boot)
09.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Maybe Tiger is going to play for Thailand?
Hell, maybe I can move to the Maldives and play in RIO
09.10.2012 | Unregistered Commenterfwiw
DTF: It's not a matter of what he says now, which in m my view is to try to cool the non-issue (as it is at the moment).

It's a matter of four years hence, when the decision may be taken out of his hands.

Ya think the Irish wouldnt have him if he's playing like 2012? Despite a history not unchequered with grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory, and not missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity -- I refer to the pols, not the sportsmen -- I think not.
09.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterGhillie
I agree 100% that the Irish would love to have him...

...but I'd also argue that the chances of this happening are 0%.

Think about it, there are only 2 possible outcomes --> (1) play for Ireland --> (2) play for GB.

Reaction to Outcome 1 = joyous in Ireland, complete non-event in GB. Based on Rory's playing history (Golfing Union of Ireland, etc...) Outcome 1 would be as expected from a GB perspective.

Reaction to Outcome 2 = tremendous scrutiny accompanied by the opposite of joyous from the Irish perspective. Won't be any fun.

If Outcome 1 was Rory's choice he'd just come right out and clear it up now, there would be no downside.

Hypothetically I guess there could be an Outcome 3, which would be make a statement that Rory would never play the Olympics no matter what thereby avoiding having to make a choice -- I do not believe he would ever willingly skip a chance at the Olympics so it's not really a viable outcome to consider.
09.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF is an interesting point you raise about the decision possibly being taken out of his hands -- is there any evidence this coudl really happen?

PPS...again, I think that by deferring the matter, he's already clearly signaled his choice.
09.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
I don't get it. Why would Rory choose to do this at this time of the year? Right before the Tour Championship and the Ryder Cup? He must have known that nothing good can come out of this
09.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRyan
There's enough potential trouble in this issue without "Irish Americans" getting their knickers in a twist. I get that having a strong feel of cultural origin is a great thing and I'm sure that St Patrick's Day in New York is great craic but hasn't enough harm been done over the past 40 years by people born and bred in the USA taking a view and involving themselves in Irish issues from thousands of miles away? It does rather seem that this is more of an issue for "Irish Americans" than for the real Irish.
09.11.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPsycho
My own view is that this is a decision for Rory and Rory alone and I don't envy him. The whole NI status when it comes to the Olympics is strange when you have Belfast boxers winning medals for Ireland and Coleraine sailors winning medals for GB. If Rory decides that he want to play under the GB flag then best of luck to him and we should all respect his decision and not underestimate how difficult it is for him.

The only sour taste that would be left in my mind will be the fact that the GUI invested heavily in Rory's development (as they do with all promising young players) and you may now see him going head to head with an Irish player for a medal. However if Rory was to continue his involvement with the GUI and give some of his time with the development of younger players then I think he could mend many of the bridges.
09.11.2012 | Unregistered Commenterpaddywhack

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