Rory McIlroy admitted it was nice to talk about golf rather than the Olympics after his opening round in the Open, but was not about to change his opinion on the subject.
McIlroy withdrew from the Games citing concerns over the Zika virus, but subsequently made it clear where Rio ranks in his priorities by saying he would not even watch the golf on TV, preferring ‘’the stuff that matters’.’
“I still don’t think I’m the only one,” the world number four said. “Look, it’s my opinion. I think my opinion’s shared by a few people, but some people may think it’s wrong and that’s fine.
“But I’ve spent seven years trying to please everyone and I figured out that I can’t really do that, so I may as well be true to myself.”
McIlroy had also said that he did not get into golf to “grow the game”, which was one of the motivations of golf’s governing bodies in bidding for the sport to return to the Olympics for the first time since 1904.
Asked if he was happy with his comments during his pre-tournament press conference, the 27-year-old added: “I think I would have elaborated a little bit on the grow-the-game comment.
“Obviously I feel like I do my bit to grow the game. It’s not as if I’m uninterested. I don’t want to force golf on anyone, but I feel like golf is a great vehicle to instil values in kids. I’m an ambassador for the PGA Junior League, I do some stuff for the First Tee in the States and I feel like I’ve used my success in golf in a very positive way in the community.”
McIlroy, who donated his prize money of £515,000 for winning the Irish Open in May to his own foundation, which hosts the event, added: “The next generation can play golf if they want or they don’t. It won’t make me any less happy.
“But if I can somehow make a positive change in the world by what I do on the golf course, whether that means raise money for charity or give kids more of a chance in life growing up. I’ve been very fortunate to do what I’ve done in golf and I feel like I’ve used that success in a positive way.
“I have no regrets about where I stand on certain things, but I wish I maybe would have just elaborated a little bit more on what I said.”
McIlroy started his Open Championship with an encouraging two-under-par 69 in yesterday’s first round at Royal Troon.
The 2014 champion surged to four under on the front nine before dropping two shots on the back nine – he finished the day three behind clubhouse leader Patrick Reed.