Rory McIlroy 'taken aback' by Trump blowback, defends decision to play golf

Rory McIlroy played golf with President Donald Trump a few weeks ago in Florida. He was, in some circles, eviscerated for his decision. He received so much blowback that he responded on Twitter.

Then he was asked about it again Tuesday at the WGC-Mexico Championship.

“I was a little taken aback,” McIlroy said of the negative feedback. “I mean obviously we know how the campaign went and how divisive it was. I guess I just approached it, as I said in my statement, a round of golf, and more for putting all -- anyone’s beliefs or politics or whatever, just put that to one side for a minute. 

“Like, to go there and see 30 Secret Service and 30 cops and snipers in the trees ... it was just a surreal experience for me to see something like that. That was part of the reason I wanted to go and play. 

“If it had been Obama, I would have went to play. I’ve played golf with President Clinton, I’ve spent time with President Bush. I’ve been around quite a few presidents before, and again, like putting beliefs and whatever to one side, I just wanted to have an experience that I might not ever get, like play golf with a sitting president. 

“You can respect the guy, not respect the guy, I don’t care, but if someone has a chance to play in that scenario and just sort of experience the whole thing. It’s not as if we were speaking foreign policy out there. We were talking about golf and the grass that he put on the greens and the grass that he’s putting on the greens at Doral. We talked golf the entire day.”

Rory for Secretary of State!

“I was a little bit taken aback by the blow-back I received, but I get why. I get the divisive rhetoric and everything that was said. It’s a tough place to be in. It’s a tough position. Maybe if I look back on it, I put myself in a position where I was going to get that from either side one way or the other. 

“But again, I was just doing what I felt was respectful and the president of the United States phones you up and wants to play golf with you, you know, I wasn’t going to say no, like I don’t agree with everything that he says. 

“It is what it is. I’m not an American, I can’t change the way the political system is there. What’s going to happen? I can’t vote. As I said, I said this in Doral last year, even if I could vote ... I would have voted for an independent or someone else. But look, it is what it is and I actually enjoyed myself, I had a good time. I’m sorry if I sort of, I don’t know, pissed people off, but I felt I was in a position where I couldn’t really do anything but say yes, respect the office even if you don’t respect the guy that’s in it, go play and go from there.”

Awesome comments from McIlroy, as I expected. I understand where people are coming from, I suppose, but it’s hard to blame a guy who was called by the President of the United States to tee it up. That’s a tough thing to turn down, no matter who the president is.

CBS Sports Writer

Kyle Porter began his sports writing career with CBS Sports in 2012. He covers golf, writes poetry about Rory McIlroy's swing, stays ready on Tiger watch and loves the Masters more than anyone you know.... Full Bio

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