Rory McIlroy may have the decision over which country he represents at the 2016 Olympic Games taken out of his own hands, with legislation potentially stating he must turn out for the Republic of Ireland.
McIlroy, from Holywood in Northern Ireland, has spoken of his unease over having to make a choice between Great Britain and the Republic when golf returns to the Olympic roster. The world No2 has even floated the possibility of dodging political sensitivities by opting not to play in Rio at all.
Now Peter Dawson, the chief executive of the Royal & Ancient, has revealed McIlroy may be spared the decision.
Dawson said: "I think because Rory's history of playing for Ireland at amateur level and, I think at World Cup level, that there may be a regulation within the Olympic rules that would require him to stay with that. It's quite ambiguous really but there is a rule that a player who has represented one nation at a previous world championships from certain countries, that carries with you."
McIlroy has twice played for Ireland at the World Cup. Dawson added: "Is the golf World Cup a world championship? Golf isn't structured the same way as other sports ... but I would very much like to take this burden of choice away from the player if we can possibly do it because it's not fair to him. I think he has made it pretty clear in one of two pronouncements that he's worried about it and the last thing we want is players worrying about this."
Dawson also highlighted his unhappiness with certain elements of the golfing fraternity in the United States, who have voiced their strong opposition to the proposed ban on anchored putting strokes. The ban, due to come into force in 2016, was subject to a comment phase which closed at the end of February.
The R&A and United States Golf Association will make an announcement on whether or not they will proceed with the ban later this year. "We have had some quite strong remarks from the PGA Tour and particularly from the PGA of America," Dawson said. "A comment period turned into a campaign, which was a bit unusual.
"The PGA of America know my views about this. I'm disappointed at the way that campaign was conducted. It put rule-making on to the negotiating table. People have taken position that they will now have to back off from or maintain."
Dawson stressed that the prospect of legal action against golf's ruling bodies, should they prohibit anchored strokes, is not one which fazes him.
"The game of golf doesn't need legal action, that's for sure," said the chief executive. "It would be disappointing were that to happen. Threats of legal action don't affect rule-making. Rule-making is done on what the rules people consider is in the best interests of the game."
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