Tokyo Olympics: Rory McIlroy enjoying the experience as he chases a medal for Team Ireland
Rory McIlroy on competing at the Olympics: "I think I need to do a better job of just giving things a chance, experiencing things, not writing them off at first glance."
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 31/07/21 10:18am
Rory McIlroy admits he has been happy to have his opinion on the Olympics changed after moving into contention for a medal in Japan.
The four-time major champion - representing Team Ireland - carded a third-round 67 at Kasumigaseki Country Club to jump inside the top-five, stay within three strokes of 54-hole leader Xander Schauffele and bolster his hopes of claiming an Olympic medal.
McIlroy was previously openly sceptical about competing in the Olympics, describing himself as 'not a very patriotic guy', although has since revealed he is enjoying the experience.
"I need to give things a chance," McIlroy admitted after his third round. "I was speaking to my wife last night and saying maybe I shouldn't be so sceptical. But I think I need to do a better job of just giving things a chance, experiencing things, not writing them off at first glance.
"That's sort of a trait of mine, but like I'm happy to be proven wrong. I was proven wrong at the Ryder Cup, I've been proven wrong this week and I'm happy to say that.
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"As you get closer to that finishing line you start thinking about it [a medal] a little bit more. Last week, an Olympic medal, well I didn't really know what that would mean to me, and now that you got a chance to do it it's like, geez, that would be pretty cool."
McIlroy made his move up the leaderboard with three birdies in a four-hole stretch from the fifth and added another from four feet at the 13th, before cancelling out a three-putt bogey at the 16th by picking up a shot at the par-four next to get back to 11 under for the tournament.
"I got to four under after 13 and thought I could maybe squeeze an extra couple of shots out of the round," McIlroy added. "Not birdieing 14 was disappointing, but then I bounced back well after the bogey on 16 with a birdie on 17 and overall a good round of golf and it keeps me there in contention.
"You don't want to look at it [leaderboards] too much but I think this week it's like top three or nothing, right? You're taking peeks and glances at it and seeing how far off the pace you are. There's still 18 holes is a lot of golf still and a lot can happen. I need to go play a good round of golf tomorrow and see how it all unfolds."
Shane Lowry sits a further shot off the pace in tied-ninth after posting a three-under 68 on Saturday, with the world No 40 looking to build on Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy's rowing gold and deliver more medals for Team Ireland.
"It's nice to see a couple of medals come back to Ireland," Lowry said. "Obviously it would be nice to get a couple more. Myself and Rory [McIlroy] have a great chance to do something.
"It would be great to see two of us on the podium. I think that's something that we obviously will talk about over dinner tonight and we'll go out tomorrow and give it our best. It's a huge opportunity for me to do something very special for Irish golf and Irish sport I think.
"We're there going into tomorrow and we're both very excited. As the week's gone on, the more excited about the Olympics he [McIlroy] is getting and the more it means to him. I'm sure he's going to go out there all guns blazing tomorrow and try to win a medal and I'll do the same."