McIlroy on Trump: it was only a round of golf
Rory McIlroy has responded to critics of his outing with US President Donald Trump, saying it was only a round of golf.
"To be called a fascist and a bigot because I spent time in someone's company is just ridiculous," the Holywood native said.
His comments follow a backlash after he accepted an invitation to play a round at the Trump International in Florida.
The president is also a golfing fanatic and owns several plush courses around the world.
McIlroy last night moved to justify the outing, tweeting: "I don't agree with everything my friends or family say or do, but I still play golf with them...
"Whether you respect the person who holds the position or not, you respect the office he holds. This wasn't an endorsement nor a political statement of any kind. Golf was our common ground, nothing else.
"I hope, to some degree, this clarifies my decision to accept the invitation that was extended to me. Thanks to everyone for your continued support and I look forward to making my comeback in Mexico next week!"
Earlier McIlroy admitted to being 'massively' interested in the US political scene even though he was never interested in politics at home.
He told 'The Guardian': "I really got into it once Mr Trump ran because I knew him a little bit but at the same time I was intrigued how a successful businessman could transition into running for the highest office in the land.
"It is a totally different process from the UK. He obviously came at it from a completely different angle.
"I've said it to the man himself; on a Tuesday night at a tournament, if there was a live [political] debate, I would get room service, stick on CNN and just watch. It was pure entertainment... it was this complete phenomenon.
"Something like this probably won't happen again in our lifetime. I'm very attuned to it, I watch a lot of news. You can't avoid it. I had no interest in politics until a couple of years ago; now I can't seem to get away from it.
"I feel like I've stayed unpolitical in terms of Northern Ireland and all that goes on there but because I'm not an American I don't feel a real part of it; I'm just interested by the phenomenon of it all."