Nothern Irishman Graeme McDowell is expecting to represent Ireland at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio after choosing to compete in this week's World Cup at Royal Melbourne golf course.

There had been doubts over who he and compatriot Rory McIlroy would represent in three year's time, with both refusing to be drawn on the issue in fear of upsetting people on either side. 

McIlroy in particular has been vocal in expressing his desire for the decision to be taken out of his hands by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) due to the potential political ramifications.

Under Olympic legislation, athletes born in Northern Ireland have the choice of representing Ireland or Team GB. 

However, their rules also state that three years must have passed since representing Ireland - which will now not be the case for McDowell. 

The recently-married major winner is set to partner Shane Lowry for Ireland at this week's team event, and said: "With Olympic regulations I'll have to play for Ireland when it comes to the Games - if I'm good enough. 

"It's a very touchy political and religious subject, one that myself and Rory have not really enjoyed answering questions about because it's very difficult to pick without upsetting someone from either side."

Peter Dawson, the Royal and Ancient's chief executive, has recently stated he hoped the decision would be taken away from the pair of them. 

But two-time PGA Tour winner McDowell now hopes his decision to play in the World Cup means the end of the matter. 

"When the World Cup came back on the schedule, to Royal Melbourne, I knew that I wanted to be part of this team. We have always represented Ireland when it has come to the World Cup.

"Part of me feels relieved now I don't have to make the decision.

"It certainly did not enter my reasons for wanting to be here. I wanted to be here and play with Shane in a golf tournament which I have always loved," he added. 

The 2010 US Open champion will tee it up with Irish partner Lowry in Australia this week, seeking to become the first pair from Ireland to win the tournament since Padraig Harrington and 2014 Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley successfully won the cup at Kiawah Island in 1997. 

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