Golf

Rory McIlroy criticizes Trump, wouldn't play golf with him again

Rory McIlroy says he wouldn't play golf again with President Donald Trump and doubts he would even be invited after questioning his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

No. 1 golfer says U.S. president has tried to politicize the pandemic

Golfer Rory McIlroy says he played with Donald Trump out of respect for the office, but he wouldn't do it again and is now criticizing the president's actions during the pandemic. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy says he wouldn't play golf again with President Donald Trump and doubts he would even be invited after questioning his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

McIlroy did an hour-plus interview for the McKellar Journal podcast in which he was asked whether he regretted the February 2017 round with Trump because of criticism on social media.

"I haven't done it since ... out of choice," McIlroy said.

McIlroy, the No. 1 player in the world, said three years ago he played with Trump out of respect for the office. He said on the podcast he enjoyed his day at Trump International in West Palm Beach, Florida. He says Trump was charismatic, personable and treated everyone well, from the the players in the group to the workers in the cart barn.

"So I will sit here and say that day I had with him I enjoyed," McIlroy said. "But that doesn't mean I agree with everything — or, in fact, anything — that he says."

'Not the way a leader should act'

McIlroy continued, unprompted, by saying Trump has tried to politicize the pandemic, using as an example Trump claiming the U.S. has administered the most tests for the new coronavirus than any other nation.

"Like it's a contest," McIlroy said. "There's some stuff that just is terrible. It's not the way a leader should act. There is a bit of diplomacy that you need to show, and I just don't think he's showing that, especially in these times."

The hosts, Scottish golf journalists Lawrence Donegan and John Huggan, asked McIlroy if he would play with Trump again.

"I don't know if he'd want to play with me again after what I just said," McIlroy said. "I know it's very self-serving of me to say `No,' and if I don't, then it means I'm not putting myself in position to be under scrutiny and that I'm avoiding that.

"But no, I wouldn't."

President Trump asked about McIlroy's comments

Trump appeared on Sunday's NBC broadcast of "TaylorMade Driving Relief," a Skins game involving McIlroy and Dustin Johnson against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff.

NBC host Mike Tirico raised McIlroy's name as being among those who have played with Trump and what they talk about on the golf course. The president didn't bite on McIlroy's recent comments.

WATCH | President Trump responds to McIlroy's criticism:

While Rory McIlory participated at the Driving Relief skins match, U.S. President Donald Trump addressed comments made by the World No. 1 golfer. 1:18

"A lot of them are very political, actually," Trump said. "Some like my politics very much, and probably some don't. I guess the ones that don't, I don't get to see as much."

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