Rory McIlroy was preparing to come back to pro golf after a rib injury he suffered in January, when he got a call late on a Saturday. It was an invitation to play golf with President Donald Trump at one of Trump’s Florida clubs in Palm Beach. Trump, McIlroy and two others played a full 18-hole round, and the four-time major winner told the story of the round to No Laying Up.
However, the Trump Administration didn’t want to acknowledge his guests, much less that the 45th President had played more than a few holes. Suddenly, the Administration had to tell the truth. And what did McIlroy get for sharing what happened? A slew of backlash and vitriol for his choice to play with — and this is understated — a polarizing President.
“Would I do it again? After the sort of backlash I received, I’d think twice about it,” McIlroy said Tuesday at Augusta National in response to a question about the round.
McIlroy never saw the decision as a political one.
“I felt I would have been making more of a statement if I had turned it down,” McIlroy said. “It’s not a tough place to be put in, but it was a round of golf and nothing more.”
The thought process was that McIlroy wanted to soak up a potentially once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, no considering the flak he would get, particularly outside of golf, a largely Republican game.
“Whenever an invitation or a request comes my way, I don’t want to say I jump at the chance, but at the same time, you know, to see the Secret Service, to see the scene, I mean, that’s really what I was going for,” McIlroy said. “I mean, there was not one bit of politics discussed in that round of golf. He was more interested talking about the grass that he just put on the greens. But, yeah, look — it’s a difficult one.”