Rory McIlroy has slammed US president Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic – and said that he would not want to play golf with him again.
Speaking on the latest episode of the excellent McKellar Podcast, McIlroy provided a withering appraisal of the way in which Trump has led the United States’ response to the COVID-19 crisis.
The US has suffered more deaths from the disease than any other country in the world. Trump, who is up for re-election to the White House later this year, has been criticised in some quarters for making the issue overtly political.
According to world No.1 McIlroy, who lives close to one of the president’s golf properties in Florida, that’s unacceptable.
“We’re in the midst of something that’s pretty serious right now and the fact that he’s trying to politicise it and make it a campaign rally and say we’re administering the most tests in world like it is a contest — there’s some stuff that is just terrible,” said the four-time major champion.
"It's not the way a leader should act. There is a bit of diplomacy you need to show and I just don't think he's shown that, especially in these times."
McIlroy revealed that he was branded a “fascist” and a “bigot” by some people for playing golf with Trump three years ago. Were the same opportunity to arise now, the Northern Irishman says he “probably wouldn’t” accept.
“He’s very charismatic,” he added. “He was nice to everyone [when we played]. 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.
“But that doesn’t mean I agree with everything, or, in fact, anything that he says.
“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 then I’m not putting myself in position to be put under scrutiny and that I’m avoiding that.”
McIlroy will return to competition this weekend when he partners Dustin Johnson in a skins match against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff organised by equipment giants TaylorMade and designed to raise money for COVID-19 relief efforts. Driving Relief will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Golf this Sunday.