By Duncan Mackay

Rory McIlroy Charlotte Wells Fargo Championship May 1 2013May 1 - Rory McIlroy has again kept his options open about which country he will represent at Rio 2016 when golf makes its return to the Olympic programme after a 104-year absence but a decision not to represent Ireland at this year's World Cup would suggest he appears to be leaning towards Britain.

Peter Dawson, chief executive of the sport's governing body, Royal & Ancient (R&A), had claimed last month McIlroy would have to represent Ireland in the Games having previously represented them in the World Cup of Golf.

But, under the Olympic Charter, McIlroy's options remain open, as long as he does not play for Ireland between now and Rio 2016, because he will not have represented a country for three years.

The 23-year-old - who recnetly lost his status as the world's top ranked player to Tiger Woods - holds a British passport and is eligible to play for either country in the Olympics.

When asked today on the eve of the Wachovia Championship at Quail Hollow in North Carolina if he planned to play for Ireland in this year's World Cup of Golf at Mission Hill in China he gave a firm "no".

If he played for them he would almost certainly mean he would have to represent Ireland at Rio 2016.

Rory McIlroy behind Irish flag Mission Hills World Cup 2011Rory McIlroy walks behind the Irish flag at the Opening Ceremony of the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in 2011 in China, along with team-mate Graeme McDowell

Britain does not compete in the World Cup as the individual Home Nations - England, Scotland and Wales, along with a united Ireland team - take part.

"I think it's rule 41 in the IOC that states that I still have a choice," said McIlroy.

"It's not like they can take it away from me.

"If you play for a country and then you either change nationality or whatever, if you don't play for that country for three years you have a choice.

"I haven't played for anyone since 2011, in the 2011 World Cup [when he and fellow Northern Ireland man Graeme McDowell both represented Ireland at Mission Hills in China].

"And obviously going to the Olympics that would be five years, so I still have a choice."

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