Rory McIlroy Wouldn't Golf with Donald Trump Again; Slams Handling of COVID-19

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 15, 2020

DORAL, FL - MARCH 06:  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump makes an appearance prior to the start of play and speaks with golfer Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland during the final round of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral Blue Monster Course  on March 6, 2016 in Doral, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

PGA Tour star Rory McIlroy says he wouldn't accept another invitation to golf with United States President Donald Trump because of how he's handled the coronavirus pandemic.

The Northern Ireland native, who played a round of golf with Trump in 2017, explained his stance during an appearance on Thursday's episode of the McKellar Golf Podcast (via TMZ Sports):

"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 that we've administered the most tests in the world like it's a contest—there's some stuff that just is terrible, and it's not the way a leader should act. There is a bit of sort of diplomacy that you need to show, and I just don't think he's showing that, especially in these times. ... I don't know if he'd want to play with me again after what I just said. ... But no, I probably wouldn't."

In 2017, McIlroy defended himself for accepting the opportunity to play alongside the president at Trump International Golf Club in Florida.

"It's not as if we were speaking foreign policy out there. We were talking about golf and the grass he was putting on the greens," he told reporters. He added, "[You] respect the office even if you don't respect the guy who's in it."

The 31-year-old four-time major champion said on the McKellar Golf Podcast he didn't have a problem with Trump personally following the round, but his opinion has changed over the years.

"Most people that he came across that day, he was cordial, he was nice, he was personable," McIlroy said. "That's my only real interaction with him. So I will sit here and say that the day that I had with him, I enjoyed. But that doesn't mean that I agree with everything—or in fact, anything—that he says."

The foursome also included former MLB outfielder Paul O'Neill:

Clear Golf @ClearSportsGolf

Big battle today at Trump International with Clear CEO Garry Singer @McIlroyRory @PaulONeillYES @realDonaldTrump Drain the putt... https://t.co/AZJqEVtlBT

McIlroy's comments come as the PGA Tour attempts to restart its 2019-20 season with the Charles Schwab Challenge on June 11 in Fort Worth, Texas.

"I think it will be nice to get back out and play," he said Sunday. "Obviously we're going to have to take as many precautions as possible to be able to put tour events on again, but I think the PGA Tour has got a very robust plan in place, and if they can execute it the right way, I see no reason why we can't start June 11."

The Tour schedule has been halted since March 12 because of the COVID-19 outbreak.