The Northern Irishman, back in the spotlight tomorrow with a Skins match in Florida to raise funds for Covid-19 relief, made clear that he is no fan of the way that golf-fanatic Trump has handled the pandemic.
‘It’s not the way a leader should act,’ said the world No 1, in comments that could land him in trouble with the PGA Tour. ‘We’re in the midst of something that’s pretty serious right now and the fact he’s trying to politicise it and make it a campaign rally and say we’re administering the most tests in the world like it is a contest — that’s something that is just terrible.
Rory McIlroy has vowed to never play another round of golf with USA president Donald Trump
McIlroy accused Trump of turning the coronavirus pandemic into a ‘campaign rally’
‘There’s a sort of diplomacy that you need to have, and I don’t think he’s showing that, especially in these times.’
The eye-opening remarks, made on the McKellar Golf podcast, will be an embarrassment to Jay Monahan, CEO of the PGA Tour. He is part of Trump’s taskforce aimed at getting the American economy moving again, and was grateful for the President’s support in enabling the tour to hopefully get back up and running on June 11. The last thing he’d want would be any friction with the temperamental occupant of the White House.
McIlroy might be thankful for the fact that tournament golf in America will be played behind closed doors for the foreseeable future. While plenty of people will applaud his willingness once more to take a stand, others of a different political persuasion would inevitably have given him a hard time when filled with booze at tournaments on a Sunday afternoon.
The Northern Irishman accepted an invitation to play golf with Trump in 2017 but was left bruised by the savage treatment he received on social media. ‘It wasn’t an endorsement or a political statement of any kind but simply respecting the office that he holds,’ McIlroy insisted at the time — but it didn’t stop him being labelled a ‘fascist’ and a ‘bigot.’
McIlory was blasted as a ‘fascist’ and a ‘bigot’ for playing golf with Trump back in 2017
The backlash clearly left its mark. McIlroy revealed yesterday that he’d turned down the chance to play again with the divisive President, who never wastes an opportunity to praise himself while the death toll in America has now risen above 83,000.
‘Out of choice,’ responded McIlroy, when asked why there had been no rematch.
He added: ‘I would say the day I did spend with him and others was enjoyable. He’s very charismatic and he was nice to everyone, from myself to the guys in the cart barn. He obviously has something, charisma, the X factor, whatever, or he wouldn’t be in the White House. But, that doesn’t mean that I agree with everything — or, in fact, anything — that he says.’
The Northern Irishman said he does not agree with ‘charismatic’ Trump’s political views
McIlroy will return to action tomorrow alongside Dustin Johnson in a Skins match against Rickie Fowler and upcoming American Matt Wolff, with $4million pledged already for Covid relief.
He has also committed to the first three events when the PGA Tour resumes in Texas next month, as he seeks to maintain the blistering run of form before the interruption that saw him register seven top-seven finishes in a row.
As for the leader of the free world, Trump’s Florida residence is less than an hour from were McIlroy lives but you can be sure they won’t be meeting up on the first tee any time soon.
Said McIlroy, pointedly: ‘I don’t know if he’d want to play with me again after what I’ve said but I wouldn’t play with him.’