Rory McIlroy said he wouldn't play golf with Donald Trump again and doubts he would even be invited after questioning the U.S. president's leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.
McIlroy did an hour-plus interview for the McKellar Journal podcast in which the 31-year-old professional golfer from Northern Ireland was asked whether he regretted the February 2017 round with Trump because of criticism on social media.
"I haven't done it since out of choice," McIlroy said.
McIlroy, No. 1 in the World Golf Ranking, said three years ago he played with President Trump out of respect for the office. He said on the podcast he enjoyed his day at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida. He said Trump was charismatic, personable and treated everyone well, from the players in the group to the workers in the cart barn.
"So I will sit here and say that day I had with him, I enjoyed," McIlroy said. "But that doesn't mean I agree with everything — or, in fact, anything — that he says."
McIlroy continued, unprompted, by saying Trump has tried to politicize the pandemic, using as an example Trump claiming the United States has administered the most tests for the new coronavirus than any other nation.
"Like it's a contest," McIlroy said. "There's some stuff that just is terrible. It's not the way a leader should act. There is a bit of diplomacy that you need to show, and I just don't think he's showing that, especially in these times."
The hosts, Scottish golf journalists Lawrence Donegan and John Huggan, asked McIlroy if he would play with Trump again.
"I don't know if he'd want to play with me again after what I just said," McIlroy said. "I know it's very self-serving of me to say 'No,' and if I don't, then it means I'm not putting myself in position to be under scrutiny and that I'm avoiding that.
"But no, I wouldn't."
McIlroy has more than 30 combined victories on the PGA Tour and the European Tour. He is a five-time major champion, having won the PGA Championship twice (2012, 2014), the 2011 U.S. Open and the 2014 British Open.
He will help bring live golf back to television Sunday by teaming with fifth-ranked Dustin Johnson in a charity skins match against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida, an exhibition intended to raise upward of $4 million for COVID-19 relief funds.
Johnson, 35, won the 2016 U.S. Open and has a runner-up finish at the Masters, the British Open and the PGA Championship.
The 31-year-old Fowler, who has finished in at least the top three at all four of golf's majors but has yet to win one, is ranked 27th.
The 21-year-old Wolff, who is ranked No. 110, turned pro last summer after winning the NCAA Division I individual title as a sophomore at Oklahoma State, where Fowler also played college golf for two years. Six weeks later, at age 20, Wolff earned his first PGA Tour victory.