Rory McIlroy is defending his decision to play a recent round of golf with President Donald Trump by insisting spending time with him is not necessarily an endorsement of him.
The two were a part of a larger group that recently took swings at Trump’s International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida. While explaining that he received a late request to be part of the party, McIlroy added that he lives in the area and was simply being respectful of the office of the president.
“I don’t agree with everything my friends or family say or do, but I still play golf with them,” the four-time major champion posted on social media.
“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. This wasn’t an endorsement or a political statement of any kind. It was, quite simply, a round of golf.”
Given that, the 27-year-old golfer insisted he can’t understand why he’s being branded a fascist and a bigot by some.
“Golf was our common ground, nothing else,” he added. “I’ve traveled all around the world and have been fortunate enough to befriend people from many different countries, beliefs and cultures.”
Fellow pro Ernie Els recently faced a similar backlash after he too made the decision to take to the links with Trump.
“I felt it was a duty to play with the president if you get the call,” he said. “If it was Barack Obama, I would have played. If it was Hillary Clinton, I would have played.”
Up until now, McIlroy has made it a point of steering clear of most all political issues, including back in 2016 when he pulled out of the Rio Olympics and later admitted he resented game officials forcing him to choose where his loyalties lay between representing Britain and the Republic of Ireland.
“It wasn’t worth the hassle,” he said.
Since taking office just over a month ago, Trump has forced several athletes to take public positions on some of his more controversial policies or stances.
Several members of the Super Bowl winning New England Patriots have vowed not to take part in the team’s White House visit based on some of his policies and two-time NBA champion Steph Curry recently took issue with pro-Trump comments made by Under Armour, his chief primary endorser.
After company CEO Kevin Plank praised Trump as a real asset, Curry opined “I agree with that description if you remove the et” from the word asset. Curry later huddled with company execs to discuss the issue and the company’s public embrace of Trump.
In addition, LeBron James blasted Trump over his enactment of a travel ban that prohibited travelers from seven mostly Muslim nations from entering the U.S.
The executive order was later found to be unconstitutional by a federal court judge and upheld by an appeals court.
“I am not in favor of this policy or any policy that divides and excludes people,” James told Sports Illustrated. “I stand with the many, many Americans who believe this does not represent what the United States is all about. And we should continue to speak out about it.”
James later added, “diversity is what makes this country so great. We should all continue to speak up and fight for ideas that bring people together regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs or any other differences…. It’s important that we as athletes continue to use the platform we have to speak up for what we believe in.”
[Featured Image by Warren Little/Getty Images]