Rory McIlroy already had expressed doubts about any future rounds of golf with President Donald Trump, saying in April 2017 that he’d have to “think twice” about it after receiving a considerable amount of heat for his round with the president two months earlier at Trump’s club in West Palm Beach, Florida.
The four-time major winner erased any of that doubt Thursday, however, telling the McKellar Golf Podcast that he had been invited to play again with Trump but had declined “out of choice.”
McIlroy, who hails from Northern Ireland but has a home near Trump’s club in Florida, criticized the president’s leadership during the novel 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.”
McIlroy acknowledged that the invitations to golf with Trump likely would stop after his comments but said he would decline even if one were extended. He also said he had no complaints about Trump during their 2017 round, which took place one month after the president’s inauguration.
“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 that doesn’t mean that I agree with everything – or in fact anything – that he says.”
That comment echoed McIlroy’s 2017 response to the criticism he received for playing golf with Trump that year. Critics found it hard to square McIlroy’s earlier comments about Muirfield in Scotland – he said it was “obscene” that the club, a 16-time British Open site, did not admit women – with his willingness to golf with the polarizing U.S. president.
“I’ve spent time in President Trump’s company before, and that does not mean that I agree with everything that he says,” McIlroy said in 2017. “Actually the opposite.”