Three years ago, Rory McIlroy played a round of golf with Donald Trump and, almost as soon as he walked off the 18th hole, he was slaughtered by many of his fans on social media.
On Thursday, appearing on the McKellar Podcast, McIlroy was asked about that round with the president and vowed it would be the last time he’d ever play with Trump.
Asked about that round and the subsequent reaction it elicited, McIlroy said, “Guilt by association,’’ adding, “I haven’t done it since, so there’s one answer to [your] question.’’
McIlroy then indicated he’d been invited to play with the president since but hasn’t. When asked if the reason he hasn’t played again with Trump was by choice, McIlroy said, “Out of choice.’’
“I’ll sit here and say the day that I did spend with him and others was very enjoyable,’’ McIlroy said. “He’s very charismatic, he was nice to everyone — it didn’t matter whether you were me or guys in the cart barn or the pro at the golf club.
“He has something. He obviously has something or he wouldn’t be in the White House, right? He has something — whatever it is, an X factor, charisma, whatever. Most people that he came across that day he was cordial to, he was nice and personable. That was my only interaction with him the day I had with him.
“But,’’ McIlroy went on, “that doesn’t mean that I agree with everything — or in fact anything — that he says.’’
McIlroy, the No. 1 ranked player in the world who’s playing in a skins match with Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff on Sunday in a fund-raising exhibition for COVID-19 relief, then expressed his displeasure with the way Trump has handled the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re in the midst of something that’s pretty serious right now and the fact that he’s trying to politicize it and make it a campaign rally and say we’re administering the most tests in world like it is a contest — there’s something that just is terrible,’’ McIlroy said. “It’s not the way a leader should act. There’s a sort of diplomacy that you need to have, and I don’t think he’s showing that — especially in these times.’’
Asked if he’d ever play with Trump again, McIlroy, who lives close to the president’s residence in the Palm Beach, Fla., area, said, “I don’t know if he’d want to play with me again after what I just said. But no, I wouldn’t.’’
When he played with Trump in 2017, McIlroy insisted his decision “wasn’t an endorsement nor a political statement of any kind.”
Social media lashed out at him, calling him a “fascist’’ and a “bigot,’’ according to McIlroy.
“Whether you respect the person who holds that position or not, you respect the office that he holds,” McIlroy said at the time. “Golf was our common ground, nothing else. I’ve traveled all over the world and have been fortunate enough to befriend people from many different countries, beliefs and cultures.”
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