PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – It turns out Northern Ireland won't have its own team for the World Cup.
A press release issued by the International Federation of PGA Tours last week during The Players Championship said that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each would be considered separate countries when the World Cup is played in November at Royal Melbourne under a new format.
It distinguished the World Cup from the Olympics, where those countries all compete together as Britain.
The PGA Tour issued a statement late Friday afternoon that only England, Scotland and Wales will have separate teams for the World Cup. That's how it has always been for the World Cup. Players from Northern Ireland and Ireland will continue to compete as one team under the Irish flag.
The status quo likely will keep Rory McIlroy away from Royal Melbourne.
McIlroy, from Northern Ireland, had said he would not be playing in the World Cup. When told last week that Northern Ireland would have its own teams, McIlroy said, "That might change things a little bit."
If he chose to play in the World Cup there could be Olympic ramifications for McIlroy, who has been asked repeatedly if he would play for Britain or Ireland in the Olympics. If he were to play for Ireland in the World Cup, that might force him to represent Ireland in the Olympics.