Rory McIlroy clarifies playing golf with Trump after unfair criticism
By Stephanie Wei under Rory McIlroy
March 2015 at Trump Doral

Reality show: When Trump staged scene on range to give Rory his 3-iron back after a scuba-diver fished it out of pond that Rory tossed it in during the second round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump Doral at Trump Doral

Rory McIlroy played 18 holes with Donald Trump last Sunday and received an absurd amount of backlash from the British press and everyone with a Twitter account and WiFi connection. I already defended Rory on this issue and told the critics to chill out because I, of all people, thought it was an overreaction. Rory came out to “clarify” the situation (even though the outrage and criticisms were seriously out of control). McIlroy, who has been nursing a rib injury, wanted to set the record straight, so on Friday, he posted a statement on Twitter (and I can’t confirm at the moment, but I’m fairly certain he actually wrote it himself–):

I wouldn’t have any friends or ever have anyone to play golf with if I shared the same beliefs as all my playing partners, and it would actually be pretty boring and weird, not to mention lonely.

I interpreted Rory’s statement as saying, I don’t agree with Trump’s politics and/or policies, but I was intrigued with the shitshow and wanted a front-row seat to check it out in person. Look, I wouldn’t have turned it down, either, because while I know these times are indeed different (and unique to anything we’ve ever seen or perhaps ever in American history), and I feel more strongly and passionately than I ever have about politics in my lifetime right now, I would still feel like a hypocrite for criticizing those who have turned it down in the past. (That said, I also don’t fault the members of the Patriots for declining the visit to the White House.)

I’m one of the very few in the golf media who has not shied from voicing my opinions on politics (and fully aware it’s very likely against my professional interests, but also believing that if followers, including potential employers, etc., are turned away simply by the fact I have a different opinion than their own and decide to judge me based solely on their intolerance, then that’s their own problem). If I were important enough to be invited to sit in a golf cart for four hours with President Trump, I would take full advantage of the opportunity to speak with him and ask him about some of his policies, and ask questions, respectfully, regarding the parts I have issues with and provide examples. (So, it was pretty funny when I was berated at on Twitter for defending Rory…that’s what I like to call “liberal intolerance,” and I know other arguments can be made, but I’ll save that for another time and place.)

But I digress. Rory, who hails from Northern Ireland, has strayed as far as possible from politics until this past election cycle in America. He told The Guardian’s Ewan Murray that he was “massively” interested in the American political scene.

“I really got into it once Trump ran because I knew him a little bit but at the same time I was intrigued how a successful businessman could transition into running for the highest office in the land,” McIlroy told the Guardian. “It is a totally different process from the UK. He obviously came at it from a completely different angle.

“I’ve said it to the man himself; on a Tuesday night at a tournament, if there was a live [political] debate, I would get room service, stick on CNN and just watch. It was pure entertainment, even if you didn’t understand politics it was this complete phenomenon.

“Something like this probably won’t happen again in our lifetime. I’m very attuned to it, I watch a lot of news. You can’t avoid it. I had no interest in politics until a couple of years ago; now I can’t seem to get away from it.”

We’re all Rory McIlroy. Well, kind of. (The awful, traumatic stories about the people and the ways people are being detained by ICE and at airports is extremely disturbing.) I can’t stand watching CNN or Fox for more than a 2-3 minutes at a time. I also don’t watch cable news because I find most of it mind-numbing. Oh, then there’s the fact that I simply don’t have cable — few still do in NYC. I just can’t stop reading everything and anything (and sometimes watching late-night shows for comic relief), and listening to podcasts, along with watching links to short segments that I come across from trusted sources (on both sides of the aisle, so to speak) I follow on Twitter.

Note Rory specifically said “CNN.” Also of note: I wasn’t sure on the timing of everything, initially, but I finally came across this article, which implies that Rory did indeed leak the news himself. I mean, yes, there was a picture posted on Clear Sports’ Twitter account that shows the CEO and Paul O’Neill with Trump and McIlroy. However, it’s misleading because those were not the two people who rounded out the foursome.

*White House spokesperson said reporters on Sunday that Trump played “a couple of holes.”

*On Monday Rory told Soly from No Laying Up that he rode in a cart for all 18 holes with Trump.

*Once this happened, the White House replied to the discrepancy by saying, Trump “intended” to play only a few holes. Uh huh. Yeah, I get it. I want to play four holes and then peace out — said nobody ever.

And yes, as Rory cracked, we’ll all be jumping over the wall en route to Mexico. Looking forward to it.


In other Rory news: He’s playing in the famed member-pro at Seminole on Monday with his dad Gerry, whom recently became a member at the exclusive club a few months ago. I caught a glimpse of the pairings and the field might be stronger than the Honda Classic, which is par for the course. I actually ran into Gerry on Saturday while I was having lunch there and he came over to say hello, greeted me warmly and chatted for five minutes (which made me look really cool in front of the members hosting me — thanks, Gerry!). Thing is, I wouldn’t have expected anything else because it’s Gerry. And you know what they say, like father, like son. Good people. I was happy to see Gerry looking like he was loving life. He deserves all of it.