Rory McIlroy received a lot of flack for hitting the greens with President Donald Trump a month after the presidential inauguration in February 2017. Though he defended the decision at first, he later said he would think twice about the pairing.
Three years later he’s gone a step further, criticizing the president’s leadership and politicization of the COVID-19 crisis during a spot on the McKellar Golf Podcast. And the world’s No. 1 ranked golfer doubts they’ll be golfing together again, for both reasoning on his side and Trump’s after the remarks.
McIlroy lashes into Trump’s handling of COVID-19
McIlroy received an invitation to play with Trump and two others at Trump International Golf Club in Palm Beach, Florida. In defending the decision, he said he doesn’t always agree with everything his friends and family do, but he plays golf with them anyway.
“This wasn’t an endorsement nor a political statement of any kind. It was, quite simply, a round of golf. Golf was our common ground, nothing else,” he said.
He reiterated that stance on the McKellar Golf Podcast, saying he enjoyed the day but he doesn’t agree with “anything that he says.” He then criticized the current handling of the COVID-19 crisis. Transcribed via Golfweek:
“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, saying that (the U.S.) administers the most tests in the world like it’s a contest. … It’s just not the way a leader should act and there is a bit of diplomacy that you need to show and I just don’t think he’s shown that, especially in these times.”
Americans are losing confidence in the president and his cabinet’s handling of the crisis, per the Pew Research Center. More than 302,000 people worldwide have died from the virus, including 85,000 deaths in the United States, per data from Johns Hopkins University.
Will McIlroy play golf with Trump again?
Months after the round with the president, McIlroy said he would “think twice” about doing it again after the backlash he received.
Now the issue might be on Trump’s side after McIlroy’s statements. From the podcast:
“I don’t know if he’d want to play with me again after what I just 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 put under scrutiny and that I’m avoiding that.
“But I probably wouldn’t, no.”
The president hasn’t taken kindly to any criticism and after those comments, as tame as they are, it’s highly unlikely he would invite McIlroy back.
McIlroy says Trump has ‘X-factor’
McIlroy said Trump was “very charismatic” and “nice to everyone” whether they were in the cart barn or a pro at the club.
“He has something. He obviously has something or he wouldn’t be in the White House, right? He has something … whatever it is, it’s an X-factor or it’s charisma, I don’t know. Whatever you call it but most people that he came across that day, he was cordial, he was nice, he was personable and that’s my only real interaction with him.”
The PGA Tour is currently on hiatus due to the COVID-19 crisis. It is preparing to restart next month at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, on June 11.
McIlroy said he’s committed to playing in it, as well as the next two events on the schedule, with the protocols the tour has put into place.
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