Rory McIlroy released a statement on Saturday night regarding a round of golf he played with United States President Donald Trump.
‘Whether you respect the person who holds that position or not, you respect the office that he holds. This wasn’t an endorsement nor a political statement of any kind,’ the world number three explained.
Ernie Els recently told his friends to ‘Eff off’ after they criticised him for playing a round with the controversial President, who this week began plans to repeal the Healthcare Act in the US.
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McIlroy pre-empted a similar backlash and made his motivations clear.
‘I’ve travelled all over the world and have been fortunate enough to befriend people from many different countries, beliefs and cultures,’ he said. ‘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.’
He suggested that Trump’s views may not coincide with his and their relationship is not political. McIlroy is a professional golfer, not a lobbyist or representative looking to affect Trump’s decisions.
‘I don’t agree with everything my friends or family say or do, but I still play golf with them,’ he said.
‘Last week, I was invited to play golf with the President of the United States. It was, quite simply, a round of golf. Golf was our common ground, nothing else.
‘Thanks to everyone for your continued support and I look forward to making my comeback in Mexico next week.’