Rory McIlroy says he pulled out of the Rio Olympics last year because he feels no connection to either the Irish or British flag.

The former world number one initially gave fears over the Zika virus in Brazil last year as his reason for withdrawing from golf’s return to the Olympics.

But in an interview with the Sunday Independent he admitted that there was much more to it than.

"Not everyone is driven by nationalism and patriotism," he explained. McIlroy grew up in County Down, but he identifies himself as Northern Irish rather than British or Irish.

He says he resents the Olympics for forcing him to make a decision, after much speculation he decided that he would represent Ireland, he didn't want to take.

After the tournament, won by Team GB’s Justin Rose, McIlroy recalls sending a message to the gold medal winner which sums up his attitude to the Olympics.

He said: “I sent Justin Rose a text after he won, I think I still have the message: 'I'm happy for you, mate. I saw how much it means to you. Congratulations.' He said: 'Thanks very much. All the boys here want to know do you feel like you missed out?'

“I said: 'Justin, if I had been on the podium (listening) to the Irish national anthem as that flag went up, or the British national anthem as that flag went up, I would have felt uncomfortable either way.'

“I don't know the words to either of them; I don't feel a connection to either flag; I don't want it to be about flags; I've tried to stay away from that.”

Golf was included at the 2016 Games following an absence of 112 years and it proved a controversial move as most of the world’s top golfers chose to stay away – many of them citing fears over Zika.