Rory McIlroy still mulling Rio options

Could the world's No. 1 golfer skip the Olympics when his sport returns to the Games in 2016?

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy is certainly considering it, according to comments he made for a BBC documentary which will air Thursday.

"Play for one side or the other [Great Britain or Ireland] -- or not play at all because I may upset too many people. ... Those are my three options I'm considering very carefully," he said.

McIlroy is in a complicated situation. He is from Holywood, Northern Ireland, not far from Belfast. Northern Ireland is one of four constituent countries -- along with England, Scotland and Wales -- that make up the United Kingdom.

In the Olympics, Great Britain competes as one team. And yet in golf's World Cup, all of Ireland competes as one team, while the other nations in the United Kingdom also compete separately.

That is why there is often confusion over the issue. In golf's World Cup, McIlroy could conceivably play with Padraig Harrington -- who is from Dublin in the South -- and represent Ireland. But in the Olympics, he would have the choice of playing for Ireland or the U.K.

"I feel Northern Irish and obviously being from Northern Ireland you have a connection to Ireland and a connection to the UK," McIlroy told the BBC.

"If I could and there was a Northern Irish team, I'd play for Northern Ireland."

In September, McIlroy took some flak for suggesting to an English newspaper that he'd prefer to play for Great Britain.

"What makes it such an awful position to be in is I have grown up my whole life playing for Ireland under the Golfing Union of Ireland umbrella," he told London's Daily Mail. "But the fact is, I've always felt more British than Irish.

"Maybe it was the way I was brought up, I don't know, but I have always felt more of a connection with the U.K. than with Ireland. And so I have to weigh that up against the fact that I've always played for Ireland, and so it is tough.

"Whatever I do, I know my decision is going to upset some people, but I just hope the vast majority will understand."

McIlroy discussed the September story in the BBC documentary.

"It was a moment, I don't want to say of weakness, but a moment of, I guess, frustration with it all," he said.

"People tune in to watch me play on TV and feel like they are connected to me in some way. I don't want to do repay them for their support with something they don't want me to do."

ESPN.com senior golf writer Bob Harig and The Associated Press contributed to this report.