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McDowell happy Olympic call out of his hands

NORTHERN Irish golf star Graeme McDowell is relieved that playing in the World Cup will force his hand on who to represent at the Olympics.

NORTHERN Irish golf star Graeme McDowell is relieved that playing in the World Cup will force his hand on the politically and religiously charged decision over who to represent at the Olympic Games.

The world No.12, who will play with Shane Lowry for Ireland in the World Cup, starting on Thursday at Royal Melbourne, believes this locks him into also playing for Ireland when golf returns to the Olympics in Rio in 2016.

The choice between Ireland and Great Britain - which is divided into England, Scotland and Wales for the World Cup - is one that world No.6 Rory McIlroy, also from Northern Ireland, has been reluctant to make.

It was a factor in McIlroy not entering the World Cup and he has speculated he might also skip the Olympics rather than make the tough choice, for fear that he'll alienate sections of Ireland whichever option he chooses.

McDowell said he's glad it's out of his own hands.

"I believe that me being here representing Ireland, the Olympic regulations will mean that I will have to play for Ireland when it comes to the Olympics in 2016," McDowell told reporters on Wednesday.

"Part of me feels relieved to not have to make that decision.

"It certainly didn't enter into my reasons to want to be here.

"I wanted to be here to play with Shane around Royal Melbourne in a golf tournament which I've always loved.

"And like I say, it takes care of another very sensitive problem that myself and Rory in particular have not enjoyed talking about."

McIlroy has also played for Ireland in the World Cup in the past, but McDowell's understanding is that playing for Ireland this close to 2016 binds him under Olympic rules.

He said given the touchy nature of the religious and political conflicts that have divided Ireland, golfers shouldn't have to choose sides.

"It's an unfair decision to put in the players' hands," he said.

"You're always unfortunately going to end up upsetting someone."

AAP

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