Dawson: Rules may dictate McIlroy's Olympic choice

BY foxsports • April 23, 2013

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.''

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