Rory McIlroy has said that he “probably wouldn’t” play golf with President Donald Trump again, after he faced criticism for doing so three years ago.
McIlroy, the current World No.1, was pictured playing golf with the president in Florida in 2017.
The Irish superstar faced a lot of criticism, including being called a “bigot”, for playing with the president at his golf resort in Florida, but at the time defended his actions in a Twitter post.
“Whether you respect the person who holds that position or not, you respect the office that he holds,” he said.
“Golf was our common ground, nothing else.
“I’ve travelled all over the world and have been fortunate enough to befriend people from many different countries, beliefs and cultures.”
McIlroy said that he was made to be “guilty by association” for playing a round with the president.
He confirmed that he had a “very enjoyable” day playing with Trump, and said that “he is very charismatic and was nice to everyone. He obviously has something, or he wouldn’t be in the White House.”
McIlroy added: “That doesn’t mean I agree with everything — or, in fact, anything — that he says.”
When he was asked if he would play golf with Trump again, McIlroy replied: “I know it’s very self-serving of me to say ‘no’ and, if I don’t, then it means then I’m not putting myself in a position to be put under scrutiny and that I’m avoiding that. But I probably wouldn’t, no.”
McIlroy also criticised the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and said that he has not been acting like a leader.
“We’re in the midst of something that’s pretty serious right now and the fact that he’s trying to politicise it and make it a campaign rally and say that, ‘We administer the most tests in world’ like it is a contest — there’s some stuff that’s just terrible,’’ said the Holywood man, who missed the cut at his home Open at Royal Portrush last year.
“It’s not the way a leader should act. And there is a sort of diplomacy that you need to show, and I just don’t think he’s showing that — especially in these times.”
The four-time Major winner will play a televised game of golf for the first time in two months tomorrow, when he will take on Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler in a round in aid of coronavirus charities.
Golf is scheduled to resume properly on June 11 in Texas, but McIlroy said he is happy to be able to provide entertainment while fans wait for the sport’s return.
“What we’re doing is a great thing, it’s a very small piece of all of this, but I’m just happy to be able to help in some way and bring some joy to people, I guess, when they haven’t had anything to really look forward to for a couple of months now,” he commented.