McIlroy voiced his scepticism about the Tokyo Olympics in the run up to the Games, but now already has his sights set on 2024

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Before the Olympics started, Rory McIlroy expressed his concerns about travelling to Japan in the middle of the PGA Tour season, especially with the extra demands placed on athletes due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

McIlroy also seemed somewhat unenthusiastic at the prospect of competing, citing his reason for playing is for the good of golf, and not out of a lifelong dream of winning a gold medal or patriotism to represent his country.

However, the Northern Irishman has changed his tune since playing the opening rounds at Kasumigaseki Country Club, and he already has his sights set on the Paris Olympics in three years time.

“I never obviously competed in an Olympic Games, I watched them from afar,” McIlroy said after the second-round of the Olympics, “but being a part of something that’s completely different and bigger than me and even our sport in general, that’s a pretty cool thing.”

“I didn’t know if this was going to be my only Olympics that I play or whatever and I’m already looking forward to Paris.”

The Northern Irishman moved seven under after his second-round 66, just four shots off the lead as they head into the final two days.

His promising performance, McIlroy suggests, could be accredited to the lack of optimism about the event he felt when arriving in Tokyo.

“When you sort of approach tournaments like that, it’s funny how you end up playing some of your best golf,” he said.

“Sometimes you can want things too much.”

Despite his initial feelings though, McIlroy quickly felt the true scale of the event he was competing in, and that it’s bigger than just playing golf.

“I think when you’re a competitor and athlete and your sport is in the Olympics, you feel part of something that is bigger than yourself and something that’s bigger than your sport in general.

“So I think if I’ve learnt anything already this week it’s that you feel you’re part of something bigger, which is a cool thing”.

And if you’re wondering why McIlroy is one of the only players on the course not wearing his team hat, it’s not through choice – it’s actually because they don’t fit.

“My head is so small that I have to get Nike to make me custom hats,” he told reporters.

“So, whenever I’m in a team event and the hats aren’t custom, they’re all too big.”

McIlroy also made this clear in a tweet in 2016 in response to why he wasn’t wearing a cap in the Ryder Cup: “I’ve a pea head and the hats were way too big for me!”