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Rory McIlroy in action at Tokyo 2020
Rory McIlroy in action at Tokyo 2020

Rory McIlroy conceded he needs to "give things a chance" after having his opinion of the Olympic Games altered in Tokyo.

McIlroy was somewhat indifferent to the Games ahead of golf's reintroduction in 2016, though he ultimately did not compete in Rio.

Before his appearance in Tokyo, McIlroy – who is representing Team Ireland along with Shane Lowry – claimed that he is "not very patriotic" but attended the event as he felt it was the correct thing to do.

However, the four-time major champion finds himself firmly in the mix for a medal at the Kasumigaseki Country Club.

The 32-year-old carded 67 on Saturday, putting him three shots behind leader Xander Schauffele on 11 under, and he is tied for fifth alongside Sebastian Munoz, Mito Pereira and Sepp Straka.

"I've been thinking about that, I need to give things a chance," McIlroy replied when asked if his opinion of the Olympics had changed.

"I was speaking to my wife last night and I was like 'maybe I shouldn't be so sceptical'.

"I think I need to do a better job of giving things a chance, experiencing things, not writing them off at first glance. That's sort of a trait of mine.

"But look, I'm happy to be proved wrong. I was proven wrong at the Ryder Cup, I've been proven wrong this week.

"It feels different, but I wouldn't know how to describe it. As it gets closer and you get closer to that finishing line, you start thinking about it a little bit more.

"Last week, an Olympic medal and I was like, 'I don't really know what that would mean to me'. But now you've got a chance to do it, it's like, 'Jeez that would be pretty cool'." 

McIlroy's team-mate Lowry is on 10 under, and McIlroy knows there is now extra pressure on the pair to deliver for Ireland.

"I think everyone kind of earmarked us for medals and it's nice going into the final round that we both have that to play for," he said.

"Two [medals] is better than one and one is better than none."

While McIlroy and Lowry are firmly in the running, Team USA's Schauffele is set to rekindle his Masters battle with home favourite Hideki Matsuyama.

The duo played together in the final two rounds at Augusta, with Japan's superstar Matsuyama triumphing, and they will go again in the final round on Sunday as they occupy the leading two spots.

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