FILE PHOTO: Jan 26, 2020; San Diego, California, USA; Rory McIlroy plays his shot from the fifth tee during the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course – South Co. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA Today
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy criticized U.S. President Donald Trump for his response to the coronavirus outbreak, and said it was unlikely the pair would meet for another round of golf.
“We’re in the midst of something that’s pretty serious right now,” McIlroy told the McKellar Golf Podcast here “The fact that he’s trying to politicize it and make it a campaign rally and say that we administer the most tests in the world, like it’s a contest – there’s some stuff that just is terrible.
“It’s not the way a leader should act,” said McIlroy, who has won the U.S. Open and British Open as well as two PGA Championship titles.
The world’s top-ranked golfer faced fierce criticism for playing with Trump shortly after the Republican president’s inauguration in 2017, but said the interaction was not an endorsement.
“The day that I did spend with him and others was very enjoyable,” said McIlroy, who is from Northern Ireland. “That doesn’t mean that I agree with everything or, in fact, anything that he says.”
Trump has played with several current and former pro golfers, including Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, 2016 U.S. Open winner Dustin Johnson and 2017 PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas.
“I don’t know if he would want to play with me again after what I just said,” said McIlroy. “I probably wouldn’t again.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
McIlroy, 31, is set to compete in a two-on-two, $3 million charity skins match on Sunday to benefit COVID-19 relief, teaming up with Johnson against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff.
Reporting By Amy Tennery; Editing by Bill Berkrot