LONDON - World number one Rory McIlroy will be offered the chance to be Ireland's flagbearer at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympics if he chooses to represent the Republic, its IOC member has said.
Born in Northern Ireland, McIlroy is eligible to play for both Ireland and Great Britain.
He indicated three years ago that he would "probably" play for Great Britain because he has a British passport and he reinforced that view last month when he said he has "always felt more British than Irish".
Pat Hickey, the president of the Olympic Council of Ireland, has now attempted to lure Europe's Ryder Cup hero offering him the chance to be the country's flag-bearer in Brazil when golf returns to the Games after a 112-year gap.
"I will say to Rory that if he declares for Ireland, then he will automatically put himself in pole position to carry the Irish tricolour into the Olympic Stadium in Rio," said Hickey, in comments reported by the Daily Telegraph newspaper on Tuesday.
"What he has done on the world stage for Irish golf is absolutely astonishing. Personally, I would dearly love for him to represent Ireland."
Hickey, who is also a board member on the International Olympic Committee, suggested McIlroy had been "immature" when he appeared to pledge his allegiance to Great Britain.
"You know it was over two years ago when Rory made some rash comments about representing Team GB," Hickey said.
"I think that he was perhaps a little immature back then and although he reiterated them again recently, in his present state of mind right now, I feel that he might be thinking differently."
© 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse