Sign up for our daily newsletter

Latest news, reviews, analysis and opinion, plus unmissable deals for bunkered subscriptions, events, and our commercial partners.

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.

• PICS – Golf resumes in England as restrictions ease

• PGA TOUR 2K21 cover star confirmed

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.

• Fears six Scottish munis could close “within weeks”

• COVID refunds could cause closure of top 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.

• People playing football on Musselburgh Links

“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.


author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

More Reads

Image Turnberry green

The bunkered Golf Course Guide - Scotland

Now, with bunkered, you can discover the golf courses Scotland has to offer. Trust us, you will not be disappointed.

Find Courses

Latest podcast

The 2024 Masters Commute - Day 1 LIVE from Augusta