Dawson: Rules may dictate McIlroy’s Olympic choice

Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson is looking into

regulations that could keep Rory McIlroy from choosing which team

he represents in the 2016 Olympics.

McIlroy is from Northern Ireland, and he has been caught in a

tough spot politically whether to play for Ireland or Britain when

golf returns to the Olympic program in Rio for the first time since

1904.

Dawson said Tuesday there might be precedence based on the teams

he played for in previous competitions, such as the World Cup or in

amateur golf.

”Because of Rory’s history of playing for Ireland at amateur

level and at World Cup level there may be a regulation within the

Olympic rules which would determine who would have to play,”

Dawson said. ”We are still looking at the matter but under that

regulation he could play under Irish colors.”

”It’s quite ambiguous as there are regulations within the IOC

that if you play previous world championships for a certain

country, that has to carry with you.”

Dawson noted, however, that golf doesn’t have the same structure

as other sports.

”But I would very much like to take this burden of choice away

from the player, if possible, because it’s not fair,” Dawson said.

”I think Rory has made it pretty clear, and what I have heard

privately, he is worried about it and the last thing we want is a

player worrying about it.”

In other topics Dawson covered during a 90-minute session with

reporters, he said he would not pressure the all-male clubs on the

British Open rotation into adding female members as long as they

follow equality laws.

The Open will be played this year at Muirfield, which has no

women as members.

Augusta National invited two women to join for the first time in

the club’s 80-year history. Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore were

both at the Masters this year wearing their green jackets.

Muirfield allows women access to the links east of Edinburgh as

visitor, and Dawson noted it has hosted the Curtis Cup for female

amateurs.

”There is nothing wrong under UK legislation with a single-sex

club as long as they behave under the equality act as far as guest

access is concerned, and which Muirfield certainly does,” Dawson

said. ”And to think the R&A might say to a club like

Muirfield, `You are not going to have The Open anymore unless you

change your policy,’ is frankly a bullying position that we would

never take.

”Muirfield has a huge history when it comes to The Open

Championship and this will be the 16th time that is has been played

there, and who are we to say what they should do as they are

behaving perfectly legally.”

In other topics:

– Dawson criticized the PGA of America for its public campaign

against a proposed rule that would ban the anchored stroke. The

R&A and U.S. Golf Association are expected to announce within

the month whether to adopt the new rule, which would not take

effect until 2016.

Four of the last six major champions, including Masters winner

Adam Scott, have used a long putter anchored to the body.

”The PGA of America know my views about this and I’m

disappointed at the way that campaign was conducted,” Dawson said.

”It put rule-making onto the negotiating table. People have taken

position that they will now have to back off from or maintain. The

negotiating table is no place for rule-making to take place.

Obviously, the feelings are strong. We shall have to see where it

goes.”