Published Tuesday, 09 October 2012
Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell celebrate the Ryder Cup. (© Getty)
Pat Hickey made the comments in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.
He said: "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.
"Can you just imagine what something like this would do for Rory McIlroy?
"It would suddenly catapult him into the realms of being one of the most instantly recognizable sporting faces on the planet. Because make no mistake about it, that's what carrying the flag does for people."
McIlroy, who was born in Holywood, can choose to declare for Team GB or Team Ireland if he competes in Rio four years from now, when golf becomes an Olympic sport.
The 23-year-old two time major winner has given hints about allegiance in the past and said in a recent interview he "felt more British than Irish", suggesting he has made up his mind.
However McIlroy later clarified his thoughts in an open letter posted on social media network Twitter by saying he is still undecided.
"I am a proud product of Irish golf and the Golfing Union of Ireland and am hugely honoured to have come from very rich Irish sporting roots," the golfer wrote.
"I am also a proud Ulsterman who grew up in Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. That is my background and always will be.
"Whatever I do, I know my decision is going to upset some people but I just hope the vast majority will understand."
Mr Hickey accepted the past comments of McIlroy - who was seen draped in the flag of the Ulster Banner as he celebrated Europe's Ryder Cup win in Medina last month - but said that nowadays the star player might be thinking differently.
He continued: "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."
© UTV News