Let the Olympic bidding war for Rory McIlroy begin.
Ireland decided to be the first to raise their paddle in the great McIlroy sweepstakes, offering him the alpha gig as the country's flag bearer in the opening ceremony — if he pledges allegiance to the Irish tricolor.
Pat Hickey, president of the Olympic Council of Ireland, made the offer in a Tuesday article published by The Telegraph.
“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, who is also a board member on the International Olympic Committee.
Of course, he took the time to squeeze in a sales pitch, too:
“You know it was over two years ago when Rory made some rash comments about representing Team GB. 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….”
"…Can you just imagine what something like this would do for Rory McIlroy,” Hickey added. “It would suddenly catapult him into the realms of being one of the most instantly recognisable sporting faces on the planet. Because make no mistake about it, that’s what carrying the flag does for people.”
McIlroy has come on record saying he "feels more British than Irish," which, considering the Northern Irishman holds a British passport, isn't entirely surprising. But Decision 2016 has struck a nerve across the pond. Expect invitations — and enticements — to flow Rory's way until his final selection is made…sometime in the next four years. RELATED ARTICLE EAMON LYNCH: Dear God, leave Rory along