Rory McIlroy has taken to social media to defend himself from the backlash received to his round of golf with US President Donald Trump.
The world number 3 accepted an invitation from Trump (a keen golfer himself) for a game in Florida last weekend, which caused outcry when it was brought to public attention.
A subsequent interview with the Guardian in which McIlroy shrugged off the POTUS’s highly-controversial policies and was only interested in the “the circus, the big show, is just intriguing to watch” only served to enrage his critics further.
— Ewan MacKenna (@EwanMacKenna) February 24, 2017
On Friday evening, McIlroy issued a statement on Twitter defending himself once again, insisting that playing a round of golf with Trump was in no way and endorsement of his policies.
The statement read:
— Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory) February 24, 2017
“I don’t agree with everything my friends or family say or do, but I still play golf with them. Last week I was invited to play golf with the President of the United States. Whether you respect the person who holds that position or not, you respect the office that he holds.
“That wasn’t an endorsement or a political statement of any kind. it was, quite simply, a round of golf. Golf was our common ground, nothing else. I’ve travelled all over the world and have been fortunate enough to befriend people from many different countries, beliefs and cultures.
“To be called a fascist and a bigot by some people because I spent time in someone’s company is just ridiculous. I hope, to some degree, this clarifies my decision to accept the invitation that was extended to me.”
Despite the general left-wing dismay at Trump’s actions in his first month of office, he still remains abnormally popular in professional golf circles. An informal poll taken out by the New York Times found that a staggering 89% said that they would jump at the chance to play a round with the President.
That popularity, however, wanes a bit in other US sports, with several members of the Superbowl-winning New England Patriots squad declining an invitation to the White House earlier this month.